A Year Removed from a Horse of a Lifetime, Sadler Three Deep at Breeders' Cup

John Sadler | Benoit

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ARCADIA, CA – With a trio of longshot chances entered in this weekend's Breeders' Cup, trainer John Sadler found a quiet spot on the apron to watch his 9:00 a.m. set train at Santa Anita on Wednesday morning.

It was a very different scene ahead of last year's Championships as the 67-year-old put the finishing touches on the once-in-a-lifetime Flightline (Tapit), who concluded his brilliant career unbeaten from six starts with a performance for the ages in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland.

How's life after Flightline treating you these days John Sadler?

“He's one of the greatest horses to ever run, so it's a little different,” he replied. “I've been doing this a long time, so I know the ebb and flow of it. Even though you may not have another one like that, you're gonna sure be looking for one. Everybody goes, well, is it easier this year?”

“I'll take last year any day,” Sadler said with a big laugh.

Located directly below Santa Anita's signature facade in the grandstand breezeway, a spectacular mural depicting Flightline's jaw-dropping 11 1/2-length victory in the 2021 GI Runhappy Malibu S. was unveiled on opening day at the Great Race Place last winter.

Sherackatthetrack photo

There are plenty of reminders of the big horse scattered around the facility.

“It's great to see,” Sadler said while seated just a few feet away from a cardboard cutout of the 2022 Horse of the Year, who covered 152 mares during his first season at stud at Lane's End this year.

“What's gonna be fun is that he's gonna set the market next week at Keeneland (and Fasig-Tipton)–some of those mares will sell in foal to him and next year he'll have foals on the ground. His saga is still being written.”

The fun will begin for Sadler this weekend with $240,000 OBS April graduate Slider (Jimmy Creed) in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on Friday. The Hall Racing, Pearl Racing and West Point Thoroughbreds colorbearer, listed at 8-1 on the morning-line, captured the local Speakeasy S. in his first try on turf Oct. 7.

The stretch-running Kirstenbosch (Midnight Lute) figures to get a nice set up in Saturday's speed-laden GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. The Keith Abrahams homebred, given a 10-1 shot on the morning-line, was a come-from-behind, last out winner of the local prep GIII Chillingworth S. Sept. 29.

Missed the Cut (Quality Road), meanwhile, will be one of the longest shots on the board as Sadler goes for a third win in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic. The dominating 1 1/2-mile GIII Tokyo City Cup S. Oct. 1 winner, a $400,000 KEENOV weanling and 40,000gns TATFEB graduate, is campaigned in partnership by Bee Zee, Lanes End Racing, St. Elias Stables, Edward P. Babington, Edward J. Hudson, Jr. and Lynne Hudson.

“It's one of the things that I'm proudest of that we end up in the Breeders' Cup a lot of these years,” Sadler said. “We're going over there with horses that may not be the favorite, but they all have chances. When you get at this level, you have to realize that everybody you're running against is top class. They're good, tough races, but that's the way it should be.”

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