One of these days, Tackleberry will start getting some respect.
Despite winning the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (gr. II) and Sunshine Millions Classic in his previous two starts, Tackleberry was sent off as the fourth choice in a field of eight in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap
(gr. II) (VIDEO
) on March 12. The 4-year-old gelding responded with yet another upset score, as he gamely held off Soaring Empire
to win the $300,000 event by a neck.
Tackleberry, owned and trained by Luis Olivares, has now won eight of 12 lifetime races and has won stakes ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. He covered one mile on the fast dirt in 1:35.23 under Javier Santiago, more than a second faster than champion Uncle Mo
did when winning the Timely Writer Stakes two races earlier at Gulfstream. He also carried top weight 121 pounds in the victory.
Soaring Empire and Jose Lezcano settled for second, a nose in front of Tizway in a blanket finish. Rule
, the 2-1 favorite, finished sixth.
Breaking from post 3, Tackleberry set the pace through splits of :24.59, :47.68, and 1:11.19. He was taken on by Tizway and Soaring Empire coming off the turn and hounded by those rivals every step of the stretch. But as he has done in nearly all of his recent starts, the son of Montbrook stubbornly held on for the win.
“The trainer told me to go to the lead no matter what,” Santiago said. “He said, ‘If you need to use him in the beginning, use him. I want to see him in the front.’ He’s very special. My horse, when he goes in front, he likes to fight. My horse saw the horse on the outside and that was it. He continued to run.”
Tackleberry, bred in Florida by Ocala Stud and out of the Concerto mare Box of Joy, has won seven of his last eight starts dating back to October 2010. He has now earned $757,225.
“I told him (Santiago) to go to the lead,” Olivares said. “When he went the first quarter in :24, I was very confident. He’s a fighter. At the top of the stretch I knew they weren’t going to get him. He’s so game. It’s a ways off yet, but I’m thinking about the race at Charles Town ($1 million Charles Town Classic on April 16)."
Tackleberry paid $11, $5.20, and $3.80. The exacta (3-7) returned $46.20 and the trifecta (3-7-6) was worth $103.70.