John Sadler wins races by the bushel in Southern California and is more often than not on the top of the trainer standings at each race meet. He has yet to win a Breeders’ Cup World Championship race, but 2009 could be his year.
The affable 53-year-old trainer is scheduled to saddle five Breeders’ Cup starters. All of his horses have decent shots, but his double-barreled ammo in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint could give him his first Breeders’ Cup victory despite less-than-ideal post positions.
In the over-subscribed tilt down the hill of Santa Anita’s grass course, Noble Court got into the race initially and Get Funky drew in when other horses either dropped out or went elsewhere. Noble Court and Get Funky drew post positions one and five, respectively. Sadler also has Evita Argentina in the Sentient Jet Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I), Whatsthescript in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), and Cost of Freedom in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I).
“We didn’t get the best draw for either one,” Sadler said of his Turf Sprint pair. “But it’s worse if a speed horse comes from the one. Noble Court comes from off the pace. Get Funky will be OK, though I’d rather be further outside. He’ll be behind the first flight and ahead of the deep closers.”
Noble Court has only started twice on the turf, winning the Joe Hernandez Stakes down the same course as the Turf Sprint and losing by only a neck in a stakes at Hollywood Park. His credentials come more from what he’s accomplished on the main track, where he won the 2007 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) and 2009 Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III).
Get Funky may not have as much graded stakes cachet, but he is more of a specialist down the hill. In five such starts, he has won twice, including in the 2007 Morvich Handicap (gr. IIIT), and twice finished second to Turf Sprint morning line favorite California Flag in the Morvich.
“That’s his best course,” said Sadler. “When we run him elsewhere sprinting on the turf, it’s a little short. Six and half to seven on the grass is his best distance. He’s a good old campaigner.”
Get Funky was also an astute claim. For owner Keith Abrahams, Sadler got him for $62,500 in his second lifetime start, and the horse has earned $663,905. Sadler bought Noble Court at auction for Joy Ride Racing, paying $190,000 at the 2006 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s March sale in Florida. Chris Atkinson heads the Joy Ride partnership.
Because Noble Court doesn’t have as much turf experience, Sadler has been training him more on the grass.
“When I first came up from Del Mar, I breezed him on both surfaces,” said Sadler. “But he’s done most of his breezes on the grass. He really loves working out there.”