11/20/2012 2:06PM

Golden Gate: Gladding returns from illness in All American

Marcel Langevin/Vassar Photography
Gladding runs Friday in the Grade 3 All American, his first race since winning the Alamedan at Pleasanton (above) on July 1 and then getting sick.

The last time Gladding was in Northern California, he dominated the field in the $51,000 Alamedan Handicap on July 1 at Pleasanton, winning by 6 1/2 lengths while recording a career-best 103 Beyer.

Gladding returns to Northern California on Friday, and he’s the morning-line 7-5 favorite in the Grade 3 All American at Golden Gate Fields.

Trainer John Sadler doesn’t dispute the early vote of confidence, even though Gladding came down sick over the summer.

“He’s a nice horse, and he’s won against some good horses,” said Sadler of the 5-year-old Sarava gelding, who won the Grade 2 San Antonio at Santa Anita last year.

Gladding has six rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Tapeta race, and three are multiple stakes winners: Positive Response, Hudson Landing, and Control Seeker.

Positive Response, second in the Alamedan, crossed the wire first in the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap here in May but was disqualified to fourth for interference. Last year at 3 he won the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park.

Hudson Landing won the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile on the turf here in April.

Control Seeker won the Joseph Grace on the turf at Santa Rosa this summer and the Bull Dog at Fresno in his last start. He brings a three-race winning streak into the race.

Also entered were Slim Pickins, who will scratch to run in an allowance race Saturday if that race goes, Duke of Doom, and Fast Track.

The question for Gladding is how well he will run in his first race since the Alamedan and first since his illness.

Gladding was scheduled to run in the Grade  3 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 19, but when he got there he was running a 103-degree temperature, Sadler said. “He was pretty sick,” said Sadler, “and he stayed there for eight days before we could bring him home.”

The illness sapped Gladding’s strength, and he didn’t get back on the track for a work until Sept. 17.

Gladding has been working steadily since then and wound up preparations with three six-furlong works at Santa Anita. Two were bullet works while his final work was second-fastest of 18 at the distance.

The Tapeta surface at Golden Gate Fields has a reputation for being tiring, making it hard for a horse to win off a layoff. Sadler is well aware of this but isn’t overly concerned.

“I like to have my horses ready to run when entered,” he said. “I thought he’d come back at the fall meet at Santa Anita, but he didn’t quite seem ready.”

Given that Gladding’s only start on a synthetic surface was a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy this past spring at Hollywood Park, Sadler does concede the only question is “how he’ll handle the track.”