Gift Box to get 'clean slate' with Sadler; Catalina Cruiser update

Gift Box, who ran with Mohaymen in the 2015 Remsen Stakes and Arrogate in the 2016 Travers, has relocated to California to continue his career. Trainer John Sadler on Wednesday said he’ll approach the 5-year-old’s career with a “clean slate.”

Sadler’s principle client, Hornis Racing, purchased the son of Twirling Candy, who’s pointing to the Grade 2, $300,000 San Antonio Stakes for new connections on Dec. 26 — opening day at Santa Anita Park.

“I look at the way he’s training, and right now he’s training like one of those horses — like a big horse,” Sadler said. “There’s always an opening for an older horse on the dirt, so hopefully he can compete in those races.”

Former conditioned by Chad Brown and owned by William Farish, Gift Box is 3-5-2 in 13 career starts. Since the 2016 Discovery Stakes (G3) he has competed exclusively in allowance optional claiming races in New York, never outside the exacta in his last five outings.

Sadler said connections were resting Gift Box, who last raced on March 24, at a farm after he incurred an injury.

“I think they just decided, ‘OK, if we get a good offer on him, we’ll sell him,’” the trainer said. “We purchased him privately, and he’s an interesting horse that has some good (Ragozin) numbers.”

Gift Box most recently worked six furlongs Tuesday in 1:14.40, ranking second-fastest of six horses at the distance.

Hronis Racing, of course, campaigns soon-to-be champion Accelerate along with another Sadler trainee who’s expected to supplant him as the barn’s big horse, Catalina Cruiser. The 4-year-old by Union Rags went into the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile unbeaten but never found his footing as a big favorite, finishing sixth.

“He came out of it a little banged up,” Sadler said. “He had a few minor things after the race, so we’ re giving him a little time off with the end of the year to just let him get over little aches and pains and get him ready for a 2019 campaign.”

In terms of the next generation of Sadler runners, he said “the one to watch” for is Nolo Contesto, a $385,000 Hronis Racing purchase who finished fifth on debut over the weekend at Del Mar. The colt was disadvantaged by the inside post but closed despite jockey Joel Rosario losing a stirrup.

“He finished out well — galloped out in front,” Sadler said. “It was kind of a schooling type of race the way it came out. Watch out for him when he runs a mile next time.”

Sadler expects Nolo Contesto, by Pioneerof the Nile, to run again Jan. 2 at Santa Anita Park going a mile in maiden special weight company.

 

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