ARCADIA, Calif. -- Trainer John Sadler's remarkable weekend at Santa Anita continued Sunday when Gladding, making his stakes debut, led from start to finish in the Grade 2, $150,000 San Antonio Stakes for older horses.
The win came on the heels of a Saturday in which Sadler won the Strub Stakes with Twirling Candy and the Las Virgenes Stakes with Zazu.
"This is a good habit," a beaming Sadler said in the winner's circle.
Gladding ($5.20) was the strong second choice behind favored Aggie Engineer, in large part because the 1 1/8-mile San Antonio came up with little speed. Rafael Bejarano, aboard Gladding, took every advantage of that situation.
Over a track that is kind to front-runners, he was able to get to the front in 23.69 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, then slowed it down noticeably through a half-mile in 48.72 and six furlongs in a dawdling 1:13.41. Those chasing him had no chance. Gladding ripped through the next quarter-mile in less than 23 seconds and then flew through the final furlong in less than 12 seconds -- a final three-eighths in 34.59 -- to complete 1 1/8 miles on the fast main track in 1:48.
"It's fun when it works out," Sadler said. "It doesn't always."
Gladding prevailed by a length over Spurrier, who rallied from last in the six-horse field. Aggie Engineer, parked three paths wide the whole way, was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third as the even-money favorite.
Sadler, acting on a tip from bloodstock agent Mark Cornett, purchased Gladding privately on behalf of Lee and Susan Searing's CRK Stable following eight races at Calder. He beat a first-level allowance field here Dec. 29 in his first local start. Gladding, 4, is a gelding by Sarava.
Sadler said Gladding could join Twirling Candy in the starting gate for the Santa Anita Handicap on March 5.
"This gives us another option for the Big Cap," he said.