John Sadler’s success this meet has surpassed even his expectations. Well on his way to his second straight Santa Anita training title with a 40-29 lead over runner-up Bob Baffert through Sunday, the 53-year-old Long Beach native also has seven stakes victories, one behind leader Baffert, and in Sadler’s mind, that’s what makes his achievement all the more remarkable.

“Yes, this meet has exceeded my expectations,” Sadler said Wednesday morning. “If you would have said to me before the meet, ‘John, you’re going to claim only a handful of horses,’ which is probably what I’ve claimed, whether it’s four or five, I don’t know, but it’s not a lot, and I would win this many races without really a strong claiming division, I wouldn’t have believed it. That’s what’s made this unique.

“It makes this meet special, and different from some of the other ones, the reason being, in this economy, the clients haven’t really wanted the lesser horses. Nobody really has a lot of claiming horses right now, except maybe (trainer Jack) Carava, which is his primary business.” Carava trains exclusively for the La Caňada Stable of Ron Valenta.

Three of Sadler’s stakes wins were recorded by Sidney’s Candy, who established himself as a leading Kentucky Derby contender with victories in the San Vicente Stakes, the San Felipe Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby. Sadler said the son of Candy Ride is scheduled to leave for Kentucky next Monday, April 12.

Sidney’s Candy has been ridden in each of his six races by 20-year-old Joe Talamo, who missed riding in his first Kentucky Derby last year when morning line favorite I Want Revenge was injured the morning of the race. All parties involved with Sidney’s Candy obviously hope for better luck with the chestnut colt.

“It wasn’t like a magical moment,” Sadler said in explaining how Talamo got the mount. “He works the horse, we like him, and he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”


Horses are athletic, but some are more athletic than others. Being nimble can help extricate a horse from a tight spot, but not always.

Such was the case for Lookin At Lucky in the Santa Anita Derby, when the 4-5 favorite finished third by six lengths to Sidney’s Candy after steadying on the far turn in Saturday’s nine-furlong race.

“It’s very hard for a horse to recover, especially the way he got stopped,” said former jockey Joe Steiner, who has worked Lookin At Lucky many times for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. “He was starting to make a move and got stopped cold, and it’s almost impossible for the average horse to make a recovery and come back on.

“What Lookin At Lucky did in the Santa Anita Derby showed that he’s a great little horse. I’ve worked him every time he worked until the last three times. I worked him as a 2-year-old, when he was learning how to run.”

Steiner has been working regularly for Baffert since before last year’s Breeders’ Cup. “But I’ve been with him off and on throughout the years going back to Silver Charm,” said Steiner, who retired as a jockey in 2006.


Ross Porter, who for 28 years shared a microphone with Vin Scully as voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will present the trophy to the winning connections of Saturday’s $100,000 La Puente Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Porter has been ranked as one of baseball’s 60 all-time best announcers and is a member of the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame after 38 uninterrupted years on the air in Los Angeles. Prior to working with the Dodgers, Porter was sports anchor at KNBC Channel 4 from 1966 to 1976. He announced NFL games for seven years on NBC from 1970 through 1976.

Porter was rated among the elite by Curt Smith, widely regarded as America’s foremost historian of baseball broadcasting, in his 2005 book, “Voices of Summer.” Over 1,000 Major League broadcasters were judged. Ross announced Dodgers games for 28 seasons between 1977 and 2004.

Porter’s website,, features interviews that Porter has conducted with athletes from all parts of the sports world. “RealSportsHeroes” promotes the positive side of sports, but also offers updated opinion from Porter. Recent interviews at include chats with Willie Mays, Steve Stricker and Torii Hunter.

FINISH LINES: American Lion is Kentucky Derby-bound after his front-running victory under David Flores in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course last Saturday. “There wasn’t a lot of speed in the race,” trainer Eoin Harty said. “We figured to be on the lead or certainly very close to it. It was a strong race considering how windy it was there. It was blowing 30 miles an hour right down that stretch, and it’s a pretty long stretch. It wasn’t gusting, it was just blowing the whole time, so it was a good race.” Harty said Flores will retain the mount in the Run for the Roses on May 1. American Lion already is at Keeneland to prepare for the classic . . . Mike Machowsky hasn’t closed the door on Caracortado running in the Derby. “I haven’t ruled anything out,” the trainer said. “He’s nominated for it. We’ll just wait and see. He has $153,000 in graded earnings and I’ll know in the next 10 days what’s going on. A lot can happen during that time.” . . . Mike Smith rides Zenyatta in Friday’s Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park, then moves to Keeneland Saturday to ride Pasadena Stakes winner Make Music for Me for Alexis Barba in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes . . . Alex Solis rides Starlarks for trainer Paddy Gallagher tomorrow in the Vinery Madison Stakes at Keeneland . . . Jamie Lloyd expects an improved race from Fantastic Pick in Saturday’s $100,000 La Puente Stakes for 3-year-olds at nine furlongs on turf. “He probably needed his last race,” the trainer said, referring to the gelding’s fourth-place finish by less than three lengths at 50-1 behind Make Music for Me. “The horses that beat him came back to run very well, so my horse figures to be right there.” . . . “She's Funomenal cracked a sesamoid in a workout on March 14 and has been retired,” reports Bob Ike, part owner of Summit Racing. “She was shipped to Kentucky and bred to Awesome Again, but it's too early to know yet if she's in foal.” She’s Funomenal won two of four starts (one second), including the Ifyoucouldseemenow Stakes at the Hollywood Park Fall Meet, while earning over $60,000 . . . Victor Espinoza has been suspended three days (April 11, 14 and 15) for “careless riding,” altering course without sufficient clearance, causing interference while riding Who’s Up in the Santa Anita Derby. Garrett Gomez was fined $750 for “disorderly conduct,” for punching Espinoza following the race . . . Of the 2,315 runners who participated in the Santa Anita Derby Day 5K run, California Horse Racing Board steward Scott Chaney finished ninth overall and seventh in his age group (under 40) in 17.54; HRTV’s Zoe Cadman was 169th overall and first in her age group in 22.46; and jockey Chantal Sutherland was 275th overall and 15th in her age group in a time of 24.36 . . . Trainer Craig Lewis will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest at Saturday’s Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Hunch play of the year on Easter Sunday was a 5-year-old mare that won the first race at Golden Gate Fields at an $11.60 win payoff, despite being 5-2 on the morning line. Her name: Easter High.