10/29/2011 7:26PM

Santa Anita: Courtside provides silver lining in Sadler's bleak month by taking Cal Cup Sprint


ARCADIA, Calif.- Courtside saved trainer John Sadler’s month with a surprise win in Saturday’s $100,000 California Cup Sprint at Santa Anita.

At the start of the month, Sadler had five candidates for the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs next weekend, but lost four of them to setbacks in recent weeks – Celtic New Year, Cozi Rosie, Twirling Candy, and Zazu. All but Twirling Candy are expected to race again; Sadler still has Switch in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint on Friday.

Sadler was not at Santa Anita on Saturday afternoon. He missed witnessing the best performance of Courtside’s career.

Courtside, who won a $32,000 claimer for maidens in his second start in September 2010, made his stakes debut in the Cal Cup Sprint, led throughout and won by 2 1/4 lengths over Bob Black Jack. Courtside ran six furlongs in 1:07.97 under jockey Joel Rosario. A 3-year-old gelding by Cindago, Courtside set a quick pace of 21.36 and 43.38 seconds and was never seriously challenged.

“He just kept going,” Rosario said. “It looked easy for him. He’s such a big-striding colt.”

Owned by breeders Lee and Susan Searing’s CRK Stable, Courtside has won 5 of 10 starts and $178,300. He won a $20,000 claimer for 3-year-olds here in March, and steadily rose in class through the spring and summer.

The Cal Cup Sprint was Courtside’s first start since a second to Chiloquin in an optional claimer at Del Mar on Sept. 7. Chiloquin finished fifth in the Cal Cup Sprint.

The Cal Cup Sprint was Bob Black Jack’s first start since a win in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap here in February 2010. He was sidelined with a suspensory injury a month later and was considered for stud duty. When no deals were finalized, Bob Black Jack was rested and put back in training earlier this year.

“I thought he ran fantastic for his first race in 20 months,” trainer James Kasparoff said. “He looks like he pulled up well. The winner was quickest and best.”

Bob Black Jack was third early and finished a half-length in front of M One Rifle in the field of seven. The disappointment of the race was Mensa Heat, the 3-2 favorite. He was last throughout and was not persevered with in deep stretch.

“That’s very unlike him,” trainer Ted H. West said.