By Jon Forbes
Tie Rod humbled his eight opponents in the $45,000 Rattlesnake Stakes for 3-year-olds at Turf Paradise Jan. 26 when he drew off to a 10 ¾-length victory in the final prep for the $100,000 Turf Paradise Derby, which is scheduled for Feb. 17.
The one-mile Rattlesnake was originally scheduled for Jan. 22 but was postponed and re-drawn when racing was canceled because of the condition of the surface.
Only two of the nine horses in the Rattlesnake had experience beyond 6 ½ furlongs. Tie Rod, who had never raced two turns in his previous eight starts, seemed to appreciate being able to ration his speed over the longer distance under winning jockey Juan Rivera.
“I expected him to run huge at his first try at a mile,” Rivera said. “I smooched at him at the three-eighths pole and he took off. He can run all day.”
Tie Rod, owned by trainer Joe Johnson and John Pendergrast, left well from post one, settling in second inside of the early pacesetter, In to the West. Meanwhile, the 8-5 favorite, Ourticketohome, was asked for speed from post nine but got caught three-wide.
Tie Rod pulled even with In to the West at the four-furlong marker as the dueling leaders ran the opening half-mile in :46.68. Tie Rod began to pull away from his rival on the far turn, running three quarters 1:10.71 before opening up powerfully in the stretch under mild encouragement. He stopped the clock in 1:36.12. The win mutuel was $21.80.
Mr. Charlypotatoes, the lone maiden in the field, passed his tiring opponents to finish second after racing wide on both turns. In to the West faded to third after leading early, while Ourticketohome faltered badly in the stretch and finished second to last.
Tie Rod, by Old Topper out of Oasis by Water Bank, was bred in California by Dawn Lucas. Tie Rod earned $27,000 for his victory in the Rattlesnake, improving his career earnings to $69,470. It was Tie Rod’s second career stakes win; he captured Brian Barenscheer Juvenile Stakes at Canterbury Park last July.