ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 5, 2011) – Gladding, a 4-year-old gelding who joined John Sadler’ barn just two months ago, provided the 54-year-old trainer with yet another serious stakes competitor Sunday with a dogged gate-to-wire victory in Santa Anita’s 73rd running of the Grade II, $150,000 San Antonio Stakes.

With leading rider Rafael Bejarano aloft, Gladding sped to a comfortable early lead, set temperate fractions, rejected a bold bid by Spurrier entering the stretch, and pulled away to a one length victory while running 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.00.

In the process, Gladding dashed the three-race winning streak of 11-10 favorite Aggie Engineer, who wound up a well-beaten third in the field of six. Moreover, he further expanded the top-notch list of horses trained by Sadler who have become forces in six different racing divisions.

Gladding’s rise in the division for older horses came on the heels of stablemate Twirling Candy’s sensational triumph in Sunday’s Grade II Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds. Gladding became No. 2 in an extremely solid one-two punch Sadler has readied for the track’s signature event, the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 5.

The 5-2 second choice in the San Antonio, Gladding found himself on the early lead, and Sadler was pleased. “We thought it would be us or Aggie Engineer for the lead,” he said, “so Bejarano wanted to bounce out of there a little bit and see what (Joe) Talamo (on Aggie Engineer) would do.

“He (Talamo) took back a little bit and (we) inherited the trip we thought we might get. It’s fun when it works out like you think it might. It doesn’t go always go like that, but right now, we’re in that space, and so we’re really happy.”

Said Bejarano, “I thought (Talamo) was going to send the seven (Aggie Engineer), but when I saw him take a hold it let me go to the lead really easy. I decided to stay there and stay close to everybody. I was really comfortable with the pace and I was waiting for the stretch.

“When I felt the other horse (Spurrier) come running from the outside, I made sure to try and keep my horse on the lead down the stretch and let him explode. He showed me a big kick.”

A private purchase by C R K Stable’s Lee and Susan Searing not long after a 17 ¼-length maiden win at Calder Racecourse in his seventh start, Gladding provided Sadler with his seventh graded stakes win at the Santa Anita meet that is 28 days old.

The Florida-bred son of Sarava’s first stakes victory was worth $90,000, significantly more than the $71,825 earned by the gelding in eight previous starts. His record became 3-2-1 in his ninth outing.

Gladding paid $5.20, $3.40 and $2.40. Spurrier, ridden by Joel Rosario, returned $4.20 and $2.20. Aggie Engineer, who finished 1 ¼ lengths behind Spurrier, paid $2.10 to show.

Paddy Gallagher, who trains Aggie Engineer, offered little explanation for the setback. “I don’t think he had any excuse,” Gallagher said.

Sadler confirmed that Gladding likely would return, along with Twirling Candy, in the Santa Anita Handicap. “He’s another option for the Big ’Cap,” said Sadler. “If he’s doing well, and he’s ready, he’ll probably go in there with the other horse (Twirling Candy)”

Following three dark days, Santa Anita racing will resume on Thursday with an eight-race program that gets underway at 1 p.m.