STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYANSATURDAY, JAN. 28, 2023
•SADLER RETURNS AFTER FLIGHTLINE-LED WORLD TRAVEL•MEET’S FIRST 2-TIME WINNER HAS CONNECTIONS THINKING BIG•MOTORIOUS LOOMS LARGE IN SUNDAY’S CLOCKER’S CORNER•PLAYER-FRIENDLY ‘COAST TO COAST PICK 5’ RETURNS SUNDAY
SADLER BACK AT SANTA ANITA AFTER FLIGHTLINE-LED WORLD TRAVEL
When you train a horse like undefeated superstar Flightline, you can have the experiences John Sadler has enjoyed the past two weeks.
First, it was a five-day trip to London last week where Sadler accepted Flightline’s award as the Longines World’s Best Racehorse from the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. Then this week, Sadler went on a four-day sojourn to South Florida where on Thursday he accepted Fllightline’s Eclipse Awards for 2022 Horse of the Year and champion older dirt male.
On Saturday morning, the 66-year-old conditioner was back trackside at Santa Anita and “ready to be home for a while.
“It was great. We had two great trips,” Sadler noted. “The setting for the Eclipse Awards was beautiful, The Breakers hotel (in Palm Beach). It was like a resort right on the beach. Two great trips back-to-back, so I’m ready to be home for a while.”
In London, Flightline not only was officially crowned the world’s best racehorse of 2022, but he received an official rating of 140 by a panel of international handicappers in what was a surprise move. That put him equal with the great European superstar Frankel, who was a perfect 14-for-14 from 2010 through 2012. Additionally, Flightline’s rating was the highest for a North American-trained horse since Cigar earned a 135 in 1996.
Flightline had originally received a rating of 139 for his 19 ¼-length demolition in last summer’s Grade I Pacific Classic, but the international panel upgraded it by a pound during a meeting in December.
Sadler was joined in London by members of Flightline’s ownership group including Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds, Bill Farish of Woodford Racing, Stephanie Hronis of Hronis Racing and breeder Jane Lyon.
Sadler noted the experience was like none he had experienced before in London.
“I’d been through London, but never spent that much time there,” Sadler said. “We got to see a lot of the city. I did more than I’ve ever done.”
At the Eclipse Awards, Flightline won champion older dirt male after receiving 240 of a possible 246 first-place votes, which included two abstentions. For Horse of the Year, Flightline tallied 239 votes for Horse of the Year.
“It was good and better,” Sadler said of his two-week experience. “It was all just so nice.”
Flightline’s international coronation comes following a career where he was a perfect 6-for-6 in two seasons of racing with those victories coming by a combined 71 lengths. In last year’s Horse of the Year campaign, Flightline won the Grade I Metropolitan Handicap, Pacific Classic and Breeders’ Cup Classic by 8 ¼ lengths. The now 5-year-old son of Tapit was retired following the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He will stand this breeding season at Lane’s End Farm in central Kentucky for a fee of $200,000.
Throughout the two weeks, Sadler said there was one experience that stood out from the rest.
“It was all so great, but I guess my favorite moment was at the Eclipse Awards when they went to Horse of the Year,” Sadler reflected. “The (presenter) said, ‘I’m not even going to open the envelope.’ He goes, ‘3, 2, 1’ and everyone in the room yells ‘Flightline!’ That was a great moment.”
MEET’S FIRST 2-TIME WINNER HAS CONNECTIONS THINKING BIG
Borrowing a tagline from the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, it pays to own a Cal-bred if you’re the connections of 3-year-old Clouseau, who on Friday became the first two-time winner at the Classic meet.
After earning his diploma against state-breds going six furlongs on dirt here Jan. 6, Clouseau returned in a first-level state-bred allowance going the same trip and scored at 7-1 for trainer Ian Kruljac. Clouseau’s winning time of 1:10.52 was nearly equal that of the 1:10.47 posted later on the card by the hard-hitting 5-year-old Saffa’s Day in a $32,000 claimer.
As for Clouseau, he is about as well-pedigreed a Cal-bred as you will find. Bred by PT Syndicate #1 LLC, the bay colt is by top Kentucky-based stallion Distorted Humor out of the winning mare English Garden, who herself is a daughter of classic winner Bernardini.
Clouseau went through the sale’s ring at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton California Fall Yearlings and Horses of All Ages Sale where he commanded $150,000, which was among the highest-prices paid at the auction. The buyer? Eric Kruljac, a longtime Santa Anita-based trainer and Ian’s father.
“I have a guy. He’s got a pretty good eye,” Ian Kruljac quipped Saturday morning.
Last fall, Clouseau kicked off his career with two uneventful starts on turf, both while wearing blinkers.
“He’s always had a great mind on him, but after that last start (as a 2-year-old) we took the blinkers off and completely started over with him,” Ian Kruljac said. “Then we sprinted him on dirt (for his maiden win), which looking back we should have done in the first place.”
In Friday’s allowance win, Clouseau broke from the rail and stalked the pace on the inside under Geovanni Franco. Clouseau stayed on the rail in the stretch and at the sixteenth pole, drew alongside the two leaders and drove past to the wire to win by three-quarters of a length.
“I was happy he was not too far out of it,” said Kruljac, who operates a stable of seven horses at Santa Anita with Clouseau being one of two Cal-breds. “I think he’s going to be a versatile horse, so we wanted him to settle to help when he goes two turns.”
Clouseau is owned by an extensive ownership group that includes ISK Racing Stable, Doug Hames, Rebekah Lawless, Tom Lawless, Frank Lewkowitz and Karen Lewkowitz.
As you may have presumed, Kruljac confirmed the colt was named by Frank Lewkowitz as an ode to Inspector Jacques Clouseau from The Pink Panther series.
“Dr. Frank Lewkowitz is a longtime owner with our family and can be funny with his names like that,” Kruljac said.
As for what’s next for Clouseau, Kruljac said “whatever Cal-bred stakes comes up.”
But that’s not all Kruljac is thinking. He has even bigger game on his mind come spring.
“The Preakness,” he said of the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
The Preakness for a Cal-bred?
MOTORIOUS LOOMS LARGE IN SUNDAY’S CLOCKER’S CORNER
Phil D’Amato has no shortage of European-bred horses in his barn and one on the rise is Motorious, who will go for his third-straight victory when making his stakes debut in Sunday’s $100,000 Clocker’s Corner on the downhill turf course.
A 5-year-old English-bred gelding by Muhaarar, Motorious was imported to D’Amato’s Santa Anita stable after being purchased for $317,956 at the 2021 Tattersalls Horses-in-Training sale. He made his first two starts in the U.S. last spring against allowance company at Santa Anita and earned minor awards in both. Subsequently given a freshening, Motorious returned this fall at Del Mar and promptly won a first-level allowance sprinting on turf.
Motorious then backed up that effort in a big way at Santa Anita on Jan. 2. Sent down the hill against second-level allowance foes, Motorious sat off the pace under Flavien Prat before uncorking a furious rally in the stretch to win going away by 3 ¼ lengths. The effort returned a lofty 99 Beyer Speed Figure.
“This horse is coming into his own,” D’Amato said Saturday. “We gave him a little time off. We spent a lot of money on him at the Tattersalls sale and he’s living up to the expectations we have for him.”
Prat, who is riding at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, returns to Santa Anita Sunday and again has the call on Motorious in the Clocker’s Corner.
“Hopefully he can make it three straight off the bench,” D’Amato said.
The Clocker’s Corner is carded as the eighth race on Sunday’s nine-race card. Post time is approximately 4 p.m. The field in post position order: Respect the Code, Kent Desormeaux (8-1); Yeng Again, Abel Cedillo (3-1); Motorious, Flavien Prat (2-1); Lambeau, Victor Espinoza (15-1); Coulthard, Kyle Frey (7-2); Lane Way, Mike Smith (5-2); Nero, Kazushi Kimura (30-1).
PLAYER-FRIENDLY COAST TO COAST PICK 5 RETURNS SATURDAY
Saturday’s Coast to Coast Pick 5 features a heavy dose of stakes action from Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park.
The $1 minimum wager, which features a player-friendly 15 percent takeout, kicks off at approximately 1 p.m. with the Grade III Las Virgenes at Santa Anita. It continues with the 11th race at Gulfstream, the Grade III Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf, before returning to Santa Anita for the third race. The sequence concludes with races 12 and 13 at Gulfstream, which are the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf and Grade I Pegasus World Cup, respectively.
Last Sunday’s Coast to Coast Pick 5 returned $738.50 to 245 winning tickets.
Finish Lines: There is a $219,196 carryover for Saturday’s Rainbow Pick 6. It is a 20-cent minimum wager…Entering Saturday, favorites have won at 30.25 percent clip during the Classic Meet…Prominent owner-breeder and handicapper Terry Lovinger will be Tom Quigley’s featured handicapping guest Sunday on the Santa Anita simulcast feed starting at 11:20.