2019 Breeders' Cup: John Sadler's contingent coming up strong

Profile Picture: Keeler Johnson

August 28th, 2019

Prior to the 2018 Breeders’ Cup, much was made about trainer John Sadler’s 0-for-41 record in the elite races.

Sadler’s record climbed as high as 0-for-44 as the 2018 Breeders’ Cup unfolded, but then he silenced his doubters when he saddled Accelerate to prevail in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Fast forward ten months and Sadler is enjoying a banner season with 13 graded stakes victories, not far off his personal record of 19 in 2010. Sadler has five potential Breeders’ Cup contenders in his stable, including three that might compete in the Classic.

Let’s take a quick look at how Sadler’s Breeders’ Cup roster is shaping up.

Catalina Cruiser

The beaten favorite in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) is otherwise undefeated in seven starts, including victories in the True North Stakes (G2), San Diego Handicap (G2) and Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) in 2019 alone. There’s been talk of stretching Catalina Cruiser out in distance for the Classic, but with his sprinting speed and two-turn stamina, he would also be a heavy favorite to make amends in the Dirt Mile.

Higher Power

Previously a three-time allowance winner, Higher Power elevated his game to an extraordinary level in the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar, where he scored by 5 1/4 lengths. His powerful performance came out of nowhere and generated huge speed figures, but if Higher Power can bottle this newfound magic and reproduce it in the fall, he could give Sadler a second consecutive victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Gift Box

After he defeated Breeders’ Cup Classic favorite McKinzie by a hard-fought nose in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1), Gift Box went off form, but a summer freshening figures to help him rebound in the fall. With a victory over the same track and distance as the Breeders’ Cup Classic under his belt, Gift Box could be poised to outrun expectations in November.


With 27 starts under his belt, Cistron could be considered a veteran, but he has been better than ever during his busy 2019 campaign. The winner of the Kona Gold Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita in April, Cistron upped his game in the July 27 Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) at Del Mar, where he secured his first grade 1 victory. The Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) looms as a logical target.

Ollie’s Candy

This versatile 4-year-old filly has shown talent on turf, but she also brought her record on dirt to a perfect 2-for-2 with a recent victory in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar. In terms of speed figures, Ollie’s Candy might be a step below the division's best, but she’ll have a home-court advantage in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).