Sadler Unwraps Gift Box For San Antonio Surprise

Making his first start since March and carrying the Hronis Racing silks for the first time, John Sadler-trained Gift Box posted a $15 upset over favored Battle of Midway and second choice Dabster in  Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita on Wednesday. The $300,000 San Antonio was one of four graded stakes on the opening day program of the Arcadia, Calif., track’s 82nd winter meet.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, the 5-year-old grey horse by Twirling Candy won by a half-length, covering 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.88 to win his first graded stakes in a 14-race career that includes a third behind Mohaymen in the G2 Remsen in 2015 and fourth behind Arrogate in the G1 Travers in 2016. Gift Box was bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall, Carrie Brogden and Craig Brogden.

Battle of Midway, winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar and the 3-2 favorite in the San Antonio, finished second, with Dabster three-quarters of a length back in third and Beach View fourth in the field of nine older horses.

Gift Box was previously trained by Chad Brown and raced for William S. Farish. He compiled a record of three wins, five seconds and two thirds prior to being purchase earlier this year by Hronis Racing and transferred to the Sadler barn in Southern California.

“Hopefully this horse will be in the handicap division this year and we’re not opposed to going to Dubai with him,” said Sadler. “He’s close to my heart. He’s from the first crop of Twirling Candy (trained by Sadler) so I’ve been watching him for a couple of years. He’s trained really well for this race and he’s had a bunch of bullets. He ran like he trained.

“I was following him before the sale happened. He went back to the farm and the previous owners indicated that they’d like to move him along so I went back there before the September yearling sale and took a look at him, and liked him.

“I know he can run, he’s had some good speed figures. We took a shot and here we are.

“He had some interesting races back east, some highly rated allowance races. He was fourth to Arrogate in the Travers, and he was second in another stakes race at Saratoga, so there are a lot of nice running lines in there.

“Isn’t he beautiful? He’s a big, beautiful horse. He’s got that Unbridled’s Song gray coming through from the dam’s side.”

Gift Box broke well but then settled into fourth position as long shot Pitino went to the front and set fractions of :23.28 and :46.72 before throwing in the towel on the far turn. Battle of Midway chased in second along the inside with Dabster alongside. After six furlongs in 1:11.06, Gift Box joined the battle and wore down those two in the final furlong, after a mile in 1:37.73.

“I was expecting big things today because John told me he had a ‘gift box’ for me, for Christmas,” Kosta Hronis said. “John was pointing for this all along so this was always the target. John knew what he had and he was really happy when he got him. He’s been working well and he loves it here. Sadler is doing his magic again.

“This is a nice place to run,” Hronis added. “I think he likes the west coast and John Sadler makes a difference, no doubt. We’ve loved him since we got him. He’s a big strong guy. He levels off good and he’s a pro. He’s very seasoned. He had seconditiis back east but I think we pushed him over the hump. He won’t run in the Pegasus. He’ll stay here and run in the Santa Anita stakes races. We’ll let Accelerate do his thing at the Pegasus all by himself.”

Hronis racing also owns Accelerate, the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner who following the Pegasus will join the stallion roster at Lane’s End Farm, where Twirling Candy stands. Lane’s End is owned by William Farish, who campaigned Gift Box after buying him as a weanling for $135,000 from Select Sales at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale.



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