John Sadler broke a 0-for-44 run in the Breeders’ Cup last year when Accelerate won the $6 million Classic at Churchill Downs.
Sadler, one of the mainstays on the Southern California circuit, will be well-represented again this year with runners in five of the 14 events topped by Higher Power in the Classic.
Watch the 2019 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd November.
ENCODER (Juvenile Turf Sprint): A son of English Channel, he won his debut at five furlongs at Del Mar and then successfully stretched out to a mile winning the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. After finishing fourth in the Zuma Beach Stakes at a mile at Santa Anita, the decision was made to drop him back to five furlongs in the Turf Sprint.
Sadler said after the Zuma Beach jockey Flavien Prat “thought that he might be more effective going short so we’re going to drop him back to the sprint distance...he went 56-and-change at Del Mar going five-eighths. He’s done well, he’s a nice horse.”
SELCOURT (Filly and Mare Sprint): Brought a three-race winning streak into the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and finished 12th of 14 while breaking from the rail.
She is winless in four starts this year, but has finished second three times including losing the LA Woman Stakes here by a nose on October 5th, her first start in six months.
“She ran very, very well, this is her home track, she’s one who’s had stops and starts in her career,” Sadler said. “She’s a good filly, stakes winner, we think she should do well.”
Selcourt has made 10 of her 11 career starts at Santa Anita including four wins and four seconds.
CATALINA CRUISER (Sprint): This 5-year-old son of Union Rags has won seven of eight career starts, his lone loss coming in last year’s Dirt Mile where he finished sixth as the 4-5 favorite.
Pre-entered for the Sprint and Dirt Mile, he is entered in the Sprint where he will face the likes of Mitole, Shancelot and Imperial Hint.
“His speed figures are better under a mile, we think he can really be a devastating sprinter,” Sadler said. “It looks like it might be the tougher race of the two but he’s very tough himself.”
In June, his first start since last year’s Breeders’ Cup, Catalina Cruiser shipped to New York and won the Grade 2 True North, running 6 1-2 furlongs in 1:14.85, missing the Belmont Park track record by just 0.39 seconds.
“He has speed, he’ll be laying either third or fourth in there,” Sadler said.
OLLIE’S CANDY (Distaff): Her lone victory in the last 16 months came in July in the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Distaff. In her most recent start, she finished third, beaten two lengths by Paradise Woods in the Grade 2 Zenyatta Stakes, the local prep for this.
Only off the board once in nine starts. As a 3-year-old in 2018, she won the Grade 2 Summer Stakes at Santa Anita.
“She’s trained very well for this,” Sadler said. “You can tell by her record she never runs a bad race. She’s in with a pretty prohibitive favorite in Midnight Bisou but we’re in by the “Win and You’re In” so we’re in there.”
HIGHER POWER (Classic): He too earned a free berth into the Breeders’ Cup by virtue of his victory in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Classic.
His form is a bit blemished by two other poor races on dirt, though both come with excuses. In May, he finished fifth in the Grade 1 Gold Cup in his first start for Sadler, who had purchased him at a sale in April. After two solid races on turf and a victory in the Pacific Classic, he stumbled at the start of the Grade 1 Awesome Again and finished a well-beaten third by Mongolian Groom.
Sadler said the stumble “cost him a lot. He’s a horse that we want to get position with. He was shuffled back. It was the first weekend here, the track was very loose and when the jockey is kind of fighting him on a loose track it’s tough for them to get their stride. I give him an excuse on that one. He’s had three good works since then. I think the mile and a quarter is his best distance.”