In what is sure to be a Hall of Fame career, trainer John Sadler has opted to keep the home fires burning as he wages a four-front war on Saturday.
“We've got horses in a four different tracks today, Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Oaklawn Park and Golden Gate Fields,” said Sadler this morning from Barn 56 on the Santa Anita backstretch. “I had my bags packed yesterday to go to Gulfstream and be with Higher Power (likely favorite or second choice in today's Grade I, $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational), but I had some personal stuff come up, so I decided to stay home.
“We've got a great team at Gulfstream, with Juan Leyva in charge, so we're in good hands and Higher Power is doing very well. I'm excited to run Flagstaff here in the Palos Verdes and then we've got horses running up north and at Oaklawn, so it should be a heck of a day.”
Sadler was also busy with important works this morning at Santa Anita, as Combatant, a 5-year-old ridgeling who had been based in Kentucky with Steve Asmussen, will make his Southern California debut in next Saturday's Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes and Campaign, a long fused runner primarily on dirt, is scheduled to go a mile and one quarter on turf in next Saturday's Grade II, $200,000 San Marcos Stakes.
Combatant and Campaign drilled six furlongs in company this morning, with Santa Anita clockers assigning 1:14 flat clockings to both.
“Combatant is doing real well,” said Sadler. “He worked in 1:14 last week as well and these were both serious drills. He's ready to go in the San Pasqual and he's a very versatile horse. Purchased privately following a one turn mile allowance win at Churchill Downs, Combatant, a son of Scat Daddy, is 22-3-5-3, with earnings of $648,498.
Eased as the 3-5 favorite going 1 ¾ miles on dirt in the Grade II Marathon Stakes here Nov. 1, Woodford Racing's Campaign, a full full horse by Curlin, appears ready for his 5-year-old debut on Saturday.
“Campaign got a little sick of those long distance races on dirt,” said Sadler. “If you look at his form late in 2018, he ran a couple big races on grass at Kentucky Downs (a 1 ½ mile turf maiden win Sept. 1 and a 1 5/16 mile allowance win on Sept. 8, 2018), so we're hopeful he'll run big over this course. He's a natural stayer, the longer the distance, the better for him.”
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