‘Fortunate’ Sadler enjoys Palace Malice’s, Tapwrit’s Belmont wins
Four years after celebrating Palace Malice’s Belmont Stakes victory in New York, Aiken resident Jack Sadler was back in the Empire State on Saturday to enjoy Tapwrit’s triumph in the same race, which is the third leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
“I feel so fortunate,” said Sadler on Monday.
He described his opportunity to witness both performances in person with his wife, Susan, at Belmont Park as “an unbelievable experience that I wish everybody could share someday.”
Sadler is the vice president and director of communications for Dogwood Stable, which campaigned Palace Malice. He also is the vice president of operations for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, which owns Tapwrit in partnership with Robert LaPenta and Bridlewood Farm.
Dogwood, which is based in Aiken, and Eclipse merged their operations several years ago after Dogwood President Cot Campbell decided to cut back on his full-time involvement in the Sport of Kings.
Campbell doesn’t have an ownership interest in any of Eclipse’s horses, but he does keep up with their careers.
After Tapwrit captured the Belmont Stakes, Sadler said Campbell sent congratulatory emails to Eclipse President Aron Wells and Eclipse Chairman Brian Spearman.
There also are other connections that Tapwrit and Palace Malice share.
Tapwrit’s trainer, Todd Pletcher, also trained Palace Malice, who now is a stallion at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky.
In addition, former Aiken residents Mike and Kari Schneider, were members of the Dogwood partnership that owned Palace Malice, and they also are members of the Eclipse partnership that owns a portion of Tapwrit.
Others involved in the Eclipse partnership associated with Tapwrit include longtime Dogwood clients Vernon and Patricia Brinson and Carl and Lori Peterson.
Sadler said his friendship with them made Tapwrit’s Belmont victory “more special.”
During their Triple Crown campaigns, both Palace Malice and Tapwrit both ran in the Kentucky Derby and then skipped the Preakness.
“With Tapwrit, it was the same as it was with Palace Malice, we just thought he would benefit from the five weeks between races (the Derby and the Belmont) rather than coming back in two weeks for the Preakness,” Sadler said. “We also felt they were horses that would appreciate the 1 ½-mile distance of the Belmont Stakes.”
Palace Malice led early in his Kentucky Derby appearance, but faded and finished 12th. In the Belmont Stakes, he pulled away in the stretch to win by 3¼ lengths.
Tapwrit was sixth after a trip filled with traffic problems in the Derby. Things went a lot smoother in the Belmont Stakes, and Tapwrit was two lengths in front of favored Irish War Cry at the wire after passing him in the stretch.
“I would have been delighted if he (Tapwrit) had finished second or third in the Belmont, but I wasn’t surprised, truthfully, when he won,” Sadler said. “As both Aron and Todd said, we felt that the Kentucky Derby was a sneaky good race for Tapwrit. He had a lot of trouble at the beginning of race, and instead of being in the draft right behind the leaders, he was 15th early on. Then he made a strong move.”
Neither Derby winner Always Dreaming nor Preakness winner Cloud Computing showed up for the Belmont. Classic Empire, who won an Eclipse Award as last year’s champion 2-year-old male, missed the Triple Crown’s third leg because of a hoof abscess after finishing fourth in the Derby and second in the Preakness.
“There was no horse in the Belmont that made me think, ‘Oh no, I don’t want to run against him,’ ” Sadler said. “I thought Irish War Cry was a very talented horse, and I expected him to run well. But I went into the race feeling that Tapwrit would put on a show, and he did.”