Gladding beat one horse in last year’s Santa Anita Handicap. John
Sadler is optimistic that the gelded son of 2002 Belmont Stakes winner
Sarava will show marked improvement when Santa Anita’s marquee race
presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino is contested on March 3.
Gladding was in tight early in last year’s running, then weakened
to finish 13 ¼ lengths behind victorious Game On Dude, who is expected
to return to defend his title this year for Bob Baffert.
“That’s not his style,” Sadler said of Gladding’s performance
last year. “This year we’re going to be up close. We’re going to be
running next to Game On Dude. Gladding is capable of a good race. He’s
got some good Rag (Ragozin) numbers, he’s got some races that will make
him highly competitive.”
The Florida-bred owned by long-time Sadler clients Susan and Lee
Searing of Rancho Cucamonga, who race as C R K Stable, missed winning
the Grade III Texas Mile at Lone Star Park last April 23 in his first
race after the 2011 Big ‘Cap. After an absence of more than six months,
Gladding finished fourth in the Grade III Ack Ack Handicap on a muddy
track at Churchill Downs last Nov. 11.
“He didn’t really love the Churchill strip,” Sadler said. “There
was a little rain right before the Breeders’ Cup (races), so we’re
looking forward to the Big ‘Cap.”
In five starts for Sadler, Gladding has two wins, including the
Grade II San Antonio Stakes last year. Overall, Gladding has a 3-3-1
record from 13 starts, with earnings of $205,200.
Probable for the Big ’Cap: Boxeur des Rues, Mario Gutierrez;
Game On Dude, Chantal Sutherland; Gladding, Joel Rosario; Fiddlers
Afleet, no rider; Holladay Road, no rider; Ron the Greek, Jose Lezcano;
Setsuko, Victor Espinoza; Twice the Appeal, Christian Santiago Reyes; Uh
Oh Bango, Mike Smith; and Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza.
Setsuko, second by a nose at 25-1 to Game On Dude in last year’s
Big ‘Cap, worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in
1:23.80. “He went fabulous,” said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella,
who is seeking his fourth Santa Anita Handicap victory. “He galloped
out a mile in (one) 38. He couldn’t look much better.”
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said by phone Friday morning he would
peruse the weights after they come out Saturday before making a decision
on whether to run Hawthorne Gold Cup winner Redding Colliery.
Crystal Water winner Holladay Road worked six furlongs on Santa
Anita’s main track Friday in a bullet 1:11.80 for Julio Canani. It was
the fastest of 22 drills at the distance, the average time of which was
1:14.28, while on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track, Fiddlers Afleet worked
five furlongs in 1:01 for trainer Peter Eurton.