John Sadler has won titles before, but the mantle of leading trainer at this Spring/Summer Betfair Hollywood Park meeting is special.
“We’ve raced here more than 25 years,” said Sadler, who turns 57 July 30. “This is the last Summer here and it’s great to be part of history. “It’s fun to go out on top.”
Sadler clinched the title July 12. Entering Sunday’s closing day card, he has 27 victories, six more than Mike Puype and seven more than Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. His runners have finished in the top three in 81 of 144 races (56 per cent).
“We’ve had a good meeting, but we’ve also been a little unlucky,’’ said Sadler. “We had a ton of seconds (31),” said Sadler.
It didn’t take the trainer long to come up with his favorite all-time Hollywood Park memory – Melair.
A roan daughter of Debonair Roger owned by breeders Marianne Millard and Bea Rous, Melair burst on the scene like a meteor, winning the only five starts of her career during the 1986 Spring/Summer meet. She left a lasting legacy in the Silver Screen Stakes, which turned out to be her final start. Melair suffered a severe case of colic after that win, necessitating her retirement.
“She was just freakish that day (July 5),” recalled Sadler. “She won the race (by 6 ½ lengths) in 1:32 4/5 and that was the fastest mile ever run by a 3-year-old filly. She beat (Preakness winner) Snow Chief (who finished third) by 11 lengths.”
In fact, less than a handful of horses of any age had run faster than Melair that day. The exclusive list included immortals Dr. Fager and Buckpasser.
Snow Chief’s trainer Mel Stute famously said at the time, “I could have put a jet in the rear of my horse and he wouldn’t have beaten that filly.”
“This track has been good to us through the years,” said Sadler. “In a way, winning the title is a way to say thank you to Hollywood Park.”
JOCKEY RACE GOING DOWN TO FINAL DAY
At the beginning of closing week of the Spring/Summer Betfair Hollywood Park meeting, it looked as though Joe Talamo would unseat defending S/S champion Rafael Bejarano with Edwin Maldonado securing third place.
What a difference three days has made.
Talamo began the July 10 program with 50 victories, four more than Bejarano and seven more than Maldonado. In the ensuing three days, Talamo has failed to win a race, Bejarano has won three and Maldonado clicked with six of his 15 mounts.
Entering the 49th and final day of the season, Talamo clings to a 50-49 advantage over Bejarano and Maldonado.
Maldonado’s tactics are the opposite of what he used to defeat Bejarano at the 2012 Betfair Hollywood Park Fall meeting. Maldonado had a comfortable lead into closing week, but had to hold off a surge by Bejarano to win 25-24 for his first major Southern California title.
For those keeping score, Talamo has four mounts on Sunday’s 11 race-card, while Bejarano and Maldonado have five apiece. Following are their runners with morning line odds:
Talamo doesn’t have a call until the sixth race, when he gets a leg up on Divine Notion (5-2). He then rides Volkonsky (5-2) in the seventh, Hey You Can (10-1) in the ninth and Love That Action (8-1) in the tenth.
Bejarano is named on Metaxa (9-5) in the opener, Tribal Peace (5-2) in the fourth, Ethnic Dance (9-5) in the seventh, Dance With Fate (9-2) in the ninth and U S Citizen (5-2) in the tenth.
Maldonado has Brandon’s Princess (9-5) in the second, Unseen Visitor (7-5) in the third, Night Badger (4-1) in the eighth, Common Confusion (15-1) in the ninth and Saint Leo (3-1) in the eleventh.
DENISE MITCHELL’S CRINGE MOMENT
It started out innocently enough.
Trainer Mike Mitchell will start Dhaamer in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Sunset Handicap and his wife, Denise, went to Google searching for a picture of the horse. She described what happened next on her Twitter page:
“Looking for horse pic, I Googled Dahmer (wrong spelling). Big Mistake!. Ewww.”
Much to her horror, the search produced 310,000 results for serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer – complete with photos.
CLOSING STRIDES—Rodolphe Brisset, assistant trainer to Hall of Famer Bill Mott, flew back to New York last night after saddling Emollient for a game victory in Saturday’s Grade I, $350,750 American Oaks. Groom Alfredo Herrera reported Sunday morning that all is well with the Juddmonte Farms homebred. Mike Marlow, assistant to Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, said Grade II, $200,000 A Gleam winner Book Review was in good shape after the race. The two juvenile stakes winners, Alpine Luck in the $150,500 Hollywood Juvenile Championship and She’s a Tiger in the $150,500 Landaluce, were both fine Sunday, according to their respective trainers, Mike Harrington and Jeff Bonde ……….There is a Pick 6 carryover of $127,566 going into Sunday’s card. Because it is closing day, there is a mandatory payout and that also applies to the Players’ Pick 5 and Super High Five……. Efrain Hernandez is now a journeyman rider after losing his apprenticeship July 11……..Apprentice Alfredo Sigala will move his tack from Lone Star Park to Del Mar beginning Wednesday. The 27-year-old won 56 races in Texas and will be represented by veteran agent Jim Pegram.
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