By Ed McNamara
The year started wrong and didn’t get much better for the third-place horse in the 2019 Classic. Higher Power ran 10th as the 5-2 favorite in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Jan. 25 at Gulfstream, and he’s 0-for-3 since.
His best race was a second, beaten 3 1/4 lengths, to Improbable in the Santa Anita Gold Cup, and overall he’s 0-for-4, beaten 34 1/2 lengths. He’s 0-for-6 since August 2019 and 1-for-11 in stakes. Not good.
John Sadler, 64, has been a terrific trainer in his native Southern California since the Eighties, with 39 Grade 1 wins, but the Breeders’ Cup never has been his happy place — 1-for-50 with four seconds and seven thirds. He was 0-for-44 until Accelerate won the 2018 Classic for Hronis Racing.
Don’t expect Higher Power to give the partnership a second one. His ceiling would be picking up the pieces for third or fourth if there’s a pace meltdown. Unfortunately, he’s backed up in the stretch in five of his last six races. If you’re feeling adventurous, maybe use him underneath in trifectas and superfectas. I won’t be playing him.
Post position: 6
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Trainer: John Sadler
Owner: Hronis Racing
Career record: 19-5-2-7
Career earnings: $1,534,648
Top Equibase speed figure: 115
Pedigree: Medaglia d’Oro-Alternate, by Seattle Slew
Running style: Closer
Notes: Sadler was a show jumper who tried out for the 1976 U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team. He worked as a groom and hot walker before serving as a veterinarian’s assistant and an assistant trainer. He took out his trainer’s license at 22 in 1978 and saddled his first winner the next year … Hronis Racing also owned Stellar Wind, whom Sadler trained. She ran second in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Distaff and was named champion 3-year-old filly.
|2||Tiz the Law||Manuel Franco||3-1|
|3||By My Standards||Gabriel Saez||10-1|
|4||Tom’s d’Etat||Joel Rosario||6-1|
|5||Title Ready||Corey Lanerie||30-1|
|6||Higher Power||Flavien Prat||20-1|
|7||Global Campaign||Javier Castellano||20-1|
|8||Improbable||Irad Ortiz Jr||5-2|
|10||Maximum Security||Luis Saez||7-2|
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.