09/09/2009 11:00PM

Sadler eyes third meet title in row

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Benoit & Associates
Dancing in Silks wins the closing-day Pirate's Bounty, one of his two victories at Del Mar after a 6 1/2-month layoff caused by foot trouble.

DEL MAR, Calif. - John Sadler was headed north on Thursday morning, which figures, because his barn is going the same direction.

Sadler won the Del Mar trainers' title for the second straight year, and he did it emphatically, winning 31 races, nearly twice as many as second-place Bob Baffert. His 25 percent strike rate for wins and 51 percent strike rate for in-the-money finishes was the best of any trainer in the top 10 when Del Mar's meet ended on Wednesday.

"That's probably the most rewarding thing, looking at the hidden numbers, the in-the-money percentage," Sadler said from his car phone as he headed up the freeway back to Los Angeles. "That tells me that all the horses were running good races. I'm really happy with that."

Sadler also won the title at Hollywood Park, and when the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita opens later this month, he will be favored to do it again. Sadler has top horses across all divisions, and added depth to his arsenal this summer with some outstanding performances by his 2-year-olds.

The most promising youngster in his barn could be the filly Pure Class, a daughter of Purge who rolled to a five-length victory against maidens on Monday in her second start, but her first around two turns. Sadler said she will make her next start in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes on Oct. 4.

"I think she could do some real damage in that race," Sadler said. "We always knew she would be a route horse."

Though a maiden, Pure Class was entered in the Darley Debutante on Saturday, but was scratched.

"That was done just in case the mile maiden race didn't fill," Sadler said. "We always wanted to run her two turns."

Sadler also will have colts in the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes on Oct. 4, including Privilaged, a son of Southern Appeal who won his debut Sunday going 5 1/2 furlongs.

Sadler finished the meet by winning with the hunch bet of the summer. In the ninth race on Wednesday, 9/9/09, he sent out No. 9, favored Self Insured, for a victory in a $16,000 claiming race.

Cost of Freedom on for Ancient Title defense

Not everything was sunshine and roses for Sadler this summer. Cost of Freedom, last year's Ancient Title winner, faded to finish fourth in a five-horse field in the Pirate's Bounty Stakes on Wednesday in his first start in 49 weeks.

"I think he just got tired," Sadler said. "He stumbled at the start."

Sadler said Cost of Freedom will defend his title in the Grade 1 Ancient Title on Oct. 11.

"We're not going to change our plans," he said.

Several options for Dancing in Silks

Dancing in Silks, who won the Pirate's Bounty, will make his next start in either the Ancient Title or the California Cup Sprint on Oct. 3, trainer Carla Gaines said Thursday morning. Dancing in Silks won by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:09.96 for six furlongs, beating Cost of Freedom, whom Gaines once trained, by 4 3/4 lengths.

"I didn't know if he could beat Cost of Freedom, because Cost of Freedom usually runs super off a layoff," Gaines said. "I thought my horse's race was awesome."

Dancing in Silks won twice at Del Mar, the first time in a turf sprint, after returning from a 6 1/2-month layoff.

"He just needed a rest," Gaines said. "He had foot problems."

M One Rifle headed for Cal Cup

If Dancing in Silks goes in the Cal Cup Sprint, he will have to face M One Rifle, who won a stakes-class allowance race on Wednesday, beating Supreme Summit and Crown of Thorns in a swift 1:15.51 for 6 1/2 furlongs.

"The Cal Cup, that's where we're going," said Bruce Headley, who trains and co-owns M One Rifle. "He beat a couple of real good horses, and he's only a 3-year-old. He's a real good horse."

M One Rifle has now won three straight since finishing third in his debut.

Supreme Summit, who lost by just a half-length, ran a super race in his first start since April. His trainer, Doug O'Neill, said he could come back in the Ancient Title. Supreme Summit won twice at Santa Anita earlier this year.

"He ran huge," O'Neill said. "We definitely feel like he ran a winning race. He's a horse who usually needs five or six weeks in between races, so the Ancient Title is a possibility. I think he's that good."

Sahadi ends meet on high note

A victory by the consistent Gotta Have Her in the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap on Wednesday lit up the face of trainer Jenine Sahadi, who greeted Gotta Have Her with a kiss on the neck when she came back to the winner's circle.

"I think she's fabulous," Sahadi said. "I adore her. She always gives 110 percent."

Gotta Have Her, 5, had finished second to Magical Fantasy in the Grade 1 John Mabee Stakes here on Aug. 16. She has now won 7 times in 22 starts, has finished in the money in eight straight races, and has finished first or second in 4 of 5 starts on the Del Mar turf.

"She's been a project, getting her to relax," Sahadi said. "She's really tough. She's a bad puller. We take her out at 4:30 every morning. She loves to be the first horse out."

Sahadi credited jockey Iggy Puglisi, who works Gotta Have Her, and jockey Tyler Baze, who rides her in races, with getting Gotta Have Her to be more patient in her races. Despite a slow half-mile (48.95 seconds) in the Palomar, Gotta Have Her waited until Baze cut her loose. She beat Lethal Heat by a neck, with favored Carribean Sunset third.

Sahadi said Gotta Have Her would make her next start at the Oak Tree meet, perhaps in the Ken Maddy Stakes on the hillside turf course on Oct. 17. She won twice on that course earlier this year.

"She loves coming down the hill," Sahadi said.

Vet fined for inadvertent scratch

Dr. Barrie Grant was fined $500 by Del Mar's stewards for mistakenly scratching Summers at Delmar from the seventh race on Monday.

Summers at Delmar is trained by David LaCroix, who also had Amore Di Aleyna entered in Monday's 10th race. During a routine morning veterinary examination required of all horses competing that day, Amore Di Aleyna was found by Grant to be unsound for racing. But when Grant called in the scratch to the stewards, he erroneously said it was Summers at Delmar.

Summers at Delmar was scratched and taken out of the betting pools, according to Tom Ward, a Del Mar stewards. A little later, Amore Di Aleyna was scratched, correctly. LaCroix wanted to run Summers at Delmar for purse money only, but the stewards would not allow it.

* Dawn Before Dawn, who was pulled up in the Adoration Stakes on Monday, has been retired. "It looks like she has a hairline fracture of her pelvis," Sadler said. "It's not a problem for her being a broodmare, but she's done racing." Dawn Before Dawn won four times in 13 starts, including last year's Torrey Pines Stakes here.

* Joel Rosario was a runaway winner of his first Del Mar riding title, winning 55 races. Tyler Baze was second with 32.

* Sadler helped raise $10,000 for a local elementary school, Solana Vista, an act that came to light only because Carrie D'Arcangelo, the mother of one of the children at the school, wanted Sadler to get credit.

"We auctioned off a day with John Sadler, and after we sold one for $5,000, another person wanted in, so we sold a second day with him for another $5,000," D'Arcangelo said.