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Sadler Still Unsure Where to Run Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn beats Tres Borrachos in 2011 Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park.

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.”

 

 

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