Del Mar: Trainer looks forward to return to ‘favorite’ track

By Julie Sarno

Trainer Jenine Sahadi looks forward to bringing her stable to Del Mar every summer. She will be bringing 14 horses this year and enjoys spending time at her home in Del Mar.

Trainer Jenine Sahadi kisses Gotta Have Her after winning the $100,000 Harold C. Ramser, Sr. Handicap at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia in 2007. ©BENOIT PHOTO

“Del Mar is my favorite track,” said Sahadi, who spends most of her year at Los Angeles tracks. “I love being there with my family, my mother and my younger brother, Steve, who lives in Solana Beach with his family. It’s as close to a mini vacation as I get.”

How did Sahadi select training racehorses as a vocation? Sahadi grew up with horses as a central focus in her life. Her parents, Fred and Helen Sahadi, owned Cardiff Stud Farm in Creston, Calif. Her father founded Barretts, an equine sales company. After earning degrees in journalism and communications at the University of Southern California, Sahadi worked for seven years in the marketing and publicity departments at Hollywood Park.

In her late 20s, she decided to become a trainer. She worked for two years as assistant trainer to Julio Canani before taking out her trainer’s license in April 1993. She won with her first starter, La Sarcelle, on May 2 of that year.

Sahadi has accomplished many firsts in her career. She became the first female trainer to saddle the winner of a $1,000,000 race and a Breeders’ Cup race when she saddled the striking gray Lit de Justice to take the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Woodbine. She saddled 16-1 Elmhurst to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in 1997 at Hollywood Park, becoming the only female trainer to win two Breeders’ Cup races.

She won her third million dollar race in 2000 when she saddled The Deputy to win the Santa Anita Derby (G1), a key prep race for the Kentucky Derby. A few weeks later, Sahadi saddled the Irish-bred runner for the Derby, where he finished 14th. The Deputy was sent off at odds of $4.60 to one, the lowest odds ever for a Derby starter trained by a woman.

She has saddled 10 runners to win prestigious Grade 1 races, the highest designation, also a record for a female conditioner. She is the leading female trainer in career earnings.

“Women have to work harder,” Sahadi was quoted as saying in Women in Racing, a book by John and Julia McAvoy. “We are always going to be a little bit more controversial. In my case, for the most part, it’s always been a first: first Breeders’ Cup, first Santa Anita Derby. If you’re a woman and competing with men at any sort of level, it’s always going to be a first.”

And, Sahadi maintains, it’s tougher for women to get top quality horses to train. Her best runner in 2010 was 6-year-old Gotta Have Her, winner of two Turf stakes races. She won the Palomar last summer at Del Mar and the Royal Heroine at Hollywood Park, both Grade 2 events. Gotta Have Her had a stellar season in 2009, winning eight of her nine starts and finishing a creditable second to colts in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. She is retired and in foal to standout sire, Medaglia d’Oro, who earned $5.7 million racing for the late Ed Gann of Rancho Santa Fe.

A cause close to Sahadi’s heart is the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation which provides college scholarships to children of backstretch workers. Sahadi is heading up the Aug. 8 fundraiser at The Grand Del Mar, honoring the Oak Tree Racing Association which for years was headed by Dr. Jack Robbins, a Rancho Santa Fe resident. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Chairman Joe Harper will emcee the event.

“Eddie and I were good friends,” said Sahadi, who has been president of the Gregson Foundation since it was founded in 2000. “When Eddie passed away a number of us wanted to do something in his memory.”

The Gregson Foundation typically gives out scholarships each year and has helped more than 250 students. Most students start at a community college and then transfer to a state school. Students submit an application, similar to a college application, which then is reviewed by board members of the Foundation. Students who receive scholarships are often the first members of their families to attend college.

Tickets to the fundraiser are $250 each and may be purchased by calling Angie Carmona at the California Thoroughbred Trainers’ offices at 626-447-2339. Sponsorship packages are also available at the $10,000 and $5,000 levels. For more information, go to the website,

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Posted by Staff on Jul 6, 2011. Filed under Del Mar, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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