Trainer John Sadler has 6-year-old veteran stakes performer Kettle
Corn entered in both the $100,000, 1 1/2-mile, Grade III Cougar II
Handicap on Friday and the $200,000 1 1/16 mile, Grade II San Diego
Handicap on Saturday.
He has a Friday morning deadline to decide which race to run the son
of Candy Ride. And when asked which of three major differing factors
between the two races – purse, distance, competition – weighed most
heavily in the process, Sadler offered up a fourth factor.
“Weight,” Sadler said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a bigger factor than the
others. But it’s one of them. When you’re talking about running a mile
and a half, weight really matters. He’s the high weight Friday at 122
pounds. He’s in Saturday at 118.”
“Can he run a mile and a half ? The other day (second to Game On Dude
in the 1 ¼-mile Hollywood Gold Cup) he looked like he could.
Previously, not so much.”
How Kettle Corn stacks up against the competition, as reflected by
track oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s morning line: Kettle Corn is the 5-2
favorite in a field of 11 for the Cougar II and the 7-2 third choice
behind Paynter (9-5) and Liaison (3-1) for the San Diego.
There are other things to consider, of course.
“Another thing is, what is your goal?” Sadler said. “The goal is to
get into the ($1 million TVG) Pacific Classic and have a good run at
that this year. Which makes for a better prep? The mile and a half then
going back to a mile and a quarter, or a mile and a sixteenth going up
to a mile and a quarter?
“Those are all the things I’m thinking about.”
Kettle Corn, owned by the C R K Stable of Lee and Susan Searing of Arcadia, will be making his 24th
career start, seeking his eighth win and to increase earnings of
$533,111 . Rafael Bejarano has the mount for the Cougar II, Victor
Espinoza will be aboard if the choice is the San Diego.
“He (Kettle Corn) has been a solid B-plus (performer),” Sadler said.
“He hasn’t underachieved, he has overachieved. He has run very well
against the top horses and even if he hasn’t beaten them, he’s made so
much money running second and third, we’re very happy with him.
“He’s a very honest horse.”