Sadler gains national prominence in horse racing circles

Dec 2, 2008 5:02 PM

Golden Edge by Ed Golden |

Life is good for John Sadler. Long recognized in Southern California as a consistent and accomplished horseman, the 52-year-old trainer has attained national prominence after toiling at his trade for 30 years.

Not that it’s been one of his primary goals. His objective is to win races and let the chips fall where they may, so to speak. Sadler has not been an overnight success. Despite early on winning the respect and admiration of bettors and peers alike in the Golden State, Sadler has displayed assiduous "sticktoitiveness" en route to his current station. He is a serious trainer, and serious bettors should consider each horse he sends out as a potential winner. It could be foolhardy to draw a line through any of his starters.

In fact, in three decades, Sadler had never won a training title until last year, when he captured the Hollywood Park crown. He would go on to be leading trainer at Del Mar this year after taking Santa Anita’s prestigious winter meet. He is the leader at the current Hollywood session.

"I’ve been leading trainer all except one of the last four meets, and we were second in that one, so 2008 has been our career-best year," Sadler said. "I feel very fortunate to have good clients who want to play the game even in a tough time. It’s rewarding to have people who want to keep playing under these circumstances.

"Everybody can play when times are good, but a lot of people are affected by economic conditions now. My clients are working-class guys, so they probably have to tighten their belt a little bit, but it’s still going good."

That’s a mouthful, considering racing’s recent controversies over steroids, synthetic surfaces and purse cuts, the latter surfacing due to squabbles with Advance Deposit Wagering providers and the Thoroughbred Owners of California. Still, Sadler sees the glass as half full.

"We’ve got it all," Sadler said, laughing, referring to the negative issues. "Everything seems to be going on, but we still have the best weather. We still have some of the best trainers and best jockeys and best horses in the country, and hopefully, a lot of these matters will get worked out. I don’t know all the technical stuff of what everybody was fighting for in the ADW disagreement, but I’m glad they got it all squared away."

Prior to 2008, Sadler enjoyed his most productive year in 2007 with 113 wins and $5.4 million in purses, both career highs. He won graded stakes with six horses, the biggest coming with former claimer Dearest Trickski in the Grade I La Brea Stakes. Claimed for $32,000 at Del Mar, she went undefeated in four 2007 starts for her new connections and stretched the streak to five in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint in her first start of 2008.

Going into this year, Sadler had 1,425 career wins, with purse earnings of $48,923,570. This year, he eclipsed his personal marks of last year. Through Nov. 29, he had 120 wins, 98 seconds and 84 thirds from 606 starters. His winning percentage was nearly 20. His horses had earned $7,098,069.

While it’s too soon to trumpet any potential Triple Crown hopefuls for 2009, Sadler does have high hopes for some of his imports.

"It’s a little early to talk about Triple Crown prospects, but we have a lot of foreign horses," said Sadler, who operates full divisions at both Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. His horses in training number "right around 100" and receive assiduous treatment from a fastidious staff that has been with Sadler "a long, long time, and that helps.

"You’ll be seeing a lot of horses coming in from places like Australia, New Zealand and England. We’ve got a lot of new horses. I’ve been kind of bulking up the stable recently because November and December is the time to do that and get ready for next year. I’m looking ahead to 2009."

Bettors, too.

The homestretch

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