Tie Rod Makes Connection in Turf Paradise Derby

By Jon Forbes

Phoenix-based Tie Rod duplicated his success in the Rattlesnake Stakes last month with a 2 3/4-length victory in the $100,000 Turf Paradise Derby for 3-year-olds Saturday.

Despite his winning margin of 10 3/4 lengths in the Rattlesnake, Tie Rod went off as the second choice for trainer Joe Johnson. 

The odds-on favorite Gregorian Bay, a son of War Chant   , was shipped into Turf Paradise by trainer Craig Dollase off a second-place finish to eventual California Derby winner Bwana Bull in a first-level allowance race at Golden Gate Fields. He received an ideal pace set-up but never threatened the winner, finishing second. 

Tie Rod was able to secure the inside position under Juan Rivera after breaking from post position five. Just as in the Rattlesnake, Tie Rod faced early pressure, dueling with R Big Stuff, who was making his first start beyond 6 1/2 furlongs. The tandem set testing fractions of :23.16 and :46.39.

“I didn’t want the lead so early,” said Rivera. “But he didn’t want to wait any longer.”

Tie Rod cleared R Big Stuff at the five-sixteenth pole in hand for Rivera, running three quarters in 1:11.09.  Meanwhile, Glenn Corbett was already pushing Gregorian Bay, who had sat behind the dueling leaders in third, outside of In to the West.

Rivera kept Tie Rod under a drive in the stretch, stopping the clock in 1:43.91 for the 1 1/16-mile distance. Gregorian Bay finished second, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher In to the West, who finished a nose in front of Waltz Time.

Tie Rod, owned by trainer Joe Johnson and John Pendergast, is a bay gelding by Old Topper out of Oasis by Waterbank.  He was bred in California by Dawn Lucas and was a $33,000 Barretts purchase in October 2005.

Johnson said he has not decided where Tie Rod will race next but is considering keeping Tie Rod in Arizona.

“The (local) Derby was the goal,” said Johnson. “As to his next start, I don’t know yet. Perhaps the Tempe Handicap on the grass.” The Tempe, for 3-year-olds at one mile turf, will be run March 24.

Tie Rod’s earned $60,000 for his victory in the Turf Paradise Derby, boosting his career earnings to $129,470. It was his fourth lifetime score and third stakes victory from 10 starts. His previous stakes wins came in the Brian Barenscheer Juvenile at Canterbury at during his 2-year-old campaign and in the Rattlesnake.

He paid $6.40, $2.40 and $2.60. Gregorian Bay returned $2.40 and $2.10, while In to the West, with Ry Eikleberry up, paid $5 to show.

Waltz Time finished fourth, followed by Rival Islands, Derouin, R Big Stuff, Preferred Yield and Party With Todd. All carried 122 pounds.

(Chart, Equibase)

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