(John Sadler / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the Santa Anita Media Team:


John Sadler is poised to make history at Santa Anita.

The 63-year-old Long Beach native, a successful fixture in California and elsewhere throughout a career that began in 1978, could become the first trainer to win the historic Santa Anita Handicap three years in a row should Gift Box capture the track’s marquee race for older horses at a mile and a quarter come next Saturday.

Towards that goal, Gift Box worked five furlongs this morning in 59.60 after which Sadler was pleased as punch.

“This was his last work for the Big ‘Cap and it was a beautiful, stylish work,” said Sadler, who won the race in 2018 with Accelerate and last year with Gift Box. “I had him in 59 and four and (galloping) out in (one) 25. He just looked smooth as silk. If that’s not an A-plus workout, I don’t know what one looks like.”

Cerapio Figueroa was aboard for the drill, which private clocker Gary Young caught in a six furlong time of 1:13 with a seven furlong gallop out of 1:25.80.

“It was really a gorgeous work,” Sadler continued, “so I’m excited to have his last work behind us with one of the key days of our Winter Meet coming up; we’re looking forward to it.”

The list of those winning the Santa Anita Handicap two years in a row reads like a Who’s Who of trainers. They are: Bob Baffert, Doug O’Neill, Bobby Frankel, Charlie Whittingham, Ron McAnally and Tom Smith, he of Seabiscuit fame.

Added Young: “It looked like Gift Box was just galloping, but he still got a good time, so that’s a pretty good sign.”

As to becoming the first trainer in 84 editions of the Santa Anita Handicap to win it three consecutive years, Sadler collected his emotions before uttering, “It would be fun.”


Fashionably Fast, a streaking son of Lucky Pulpit, stretches out in quest of his sixth straight victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Tiznow Stakes for California-bred or sired horses, four years old and up at a mile on the main track.

The chestnut gelding owned by Harris Farms, Per Antonsen and John Nicoletti numbers three straight stakes among his last five triumphs, none further than seven furlongs. In his lone race at a mile on dirt, he was a close second 11 starts back in July 2018.

“You either win or you lose,” trainer Dean Pederson said matter-of-factly when sizing up his chances. “Seriously, I think the important thing is not to get into a wrestling match with the horse. Hopefully, he’ll relax, and if it means you’re two in front, you’re two in front.

“That’s the important thing. In a perfect world, you’d like to see him sit a touch off the pace, but not if the rider has to restrain him.

“The ideal scenario is to let him rock and roll and hope for the best.”

The Tiznow, race seven of eight with a 1 p.m. first post time: Oliver, Abel Cedillo, 3-1; Tiger Dad, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; Fashionably Fast, Tiago Pereira, 7-5; Posterize, Geovanni Franco, 8-1; and Ernie (Let’s Play Two) Banks, Umberto Rispoli, 4-1.


Agent Derek Lawson understandably is keeping all options open when it comes to giving Flavien Prat his best chance to win the Kentucky Derby for the second straight year on May 4.

Prat rides Dennis’ Moment in today’s Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, filling in for Irad Ortiz Jr., who rode today in Saudi Arabia. Prat also is the regular rider of Triple Crown contenders Thousand Words and Eclipse champion Storm the Court.

“They’re all in the top 10 (among Derby candidates),” Lawson pointed out. “Dennis’ Moment might just be a catch ride that we only have one time, because his regular rider, Irad, is in Saudi Arabia today, and that’s fine.

“But at least this is an opportunity to ride another horse that could be going to the Kentucky Derby. We’re going to wait and see what Thousand Words does Saturday in the San Felipe and Storm the Court, if he goes there, or in the Rebel (at Oaklawn Park March 14).

“We’re just riding races right now trying to get to the Promised Land of Churchill Downs.”


“Go West Young Lady!” A successful event for nearly two decades in Saratoga Springs, New York, Santa Anita will host its first “Fashionable Fillies” Luncheon in the Chandelier Room on Sunday, March 8.

The event is sponsored by The Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation, a charitable trust which provides, on a confidential basis, financial relief and assistance to needy members of the Thoroughbred industry and their families.

The event, which takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., will include cocktails, lunch and the opportunity to shop from local vendors. Tickets are $150 each and all proceeds will be earmarked by the foundation to benefit the backstretch community of Southern California.

Those interested can respond to Shannon Kelly, executive director, at (212) 521-5327, or via email at [email protected]

FINISH LINES: American Theorem‘s debut race as a three-year-old remained on hold this morning after the son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah worked six furlongs Friday in a bullet 1:12.20 under regular rider Tiago Pereira. “I was very happy with his work (his fifth breeze since running second to Eight Rings in the American Pharoah Stakes last Sept. 27), but I’ll speak with Mr. Kretz (part owner Rustin Kretz) before making a decision,” trainer George Papaprodromou said . . . Congrats to longtime Santa Anita Accounting Dept. stalwart Rey Solis and his wife Cindy, as their daughter Holly exchanged wedding vows with Thomas Black in a Runhappy Winner’s Circle ceremony prior to today’s races.