Taghleeb wins the 2017 W. L. McKnight Handicap at Gulfstream Park

Taghleeb wins the 2017 W. L. McKnight Handicap at Gulfstream Park

Coglianese Photos/Adam Mooshian

Taghleeb Looks For Third Straight Win in Pan American

McKnight, Jerkens winner Taghleeb tries for third consecutive stakes score on grass.

Long-winded turf pros will do battle in the April 1 Pan American Stakes (G2T) going 12 furlongs over the Gulfstream Park grass. The eight older horses are running for a $200,000 purse.

The first three finishers out of the Jan. 28 W. L. McKnight Handicap (G3T) will again face one another in the Pan American. Taghleeb, who got the job done in the McKnight with a driving rally from well off the pace, will be going for his third straight black-type victory, having won the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes in December. The 6-year-old son of Hard Spun  likes Gulfstream and is in top form, but could be hurt here by a lack of pace.

That scenario helps Reporting Star, who looks certain to have the lead through most of the Pan American. He led throughout the Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2T) March 4 before giving way by a head to the talented Wake Forest. Reporting Star won the Appleton Stakes (G3T) here last year at a mile but must show he can last this distance. Patterson Cross got second in the Mac Diarmida by a neck over Reporting Star after laying well off the pace. Two back he stalked in the McKnight, grabbed the lead in the stretch, and missed by a length, finishing third. That ability to stalk could give him first run here, and he has displayed a strong-enough kick to be a threat on the win end.

Sadler's Joy is another who likes to come from the clouds, and his furious stretch rally got him the runner-up spot in the McKnight behind Taghleeb and a length better than Patterson Cross. That was his first try in added-money company and had to be encouraging for his connections. He broke his maiden going 12 furlongs at Saratoga last summer.

Montclair—stop me if you’ve heard this—is another with no early speed. He came from back near the Everglades in the Jerkens to finish second less than two lengths behind Taghleeb, passing a dozen horses in the process.  Montclair failed to fire in the McKnight, certainly a potential cause for concern for a 7-year-old. Mr Maybe was blocked in the McKnight when finishing 10th and checked in fifth, off just a length, in the Mac Diarmida after surging from the back of the field. He is another who will be coming late, and has stakes victories in the John’s Call at 1 5/8 miles and the Red Smith Handicap (G3T) at 1 3/8 miles.

Snag was well beaten in the Jerkens, his only stakes try to date, and was fourth when moved back down to first-level allowance company last out. Designed for War has finished up the track in his stakes tries, but at least he has early speed, which will give his backers some hope in the race’s early stages.

Entries: Pan American S. (G2T)

Gulfstream Park, Saturday, April 01, 2017, Race 13

  • Grade IIT
  • 1 1/2m
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 6:06 PM (local)
11Designed for War (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoel Rosario117Michael J. Maker10/1
22Sadler's Joy (KY)Julien R. Leparoux117Thomas Albertrani3/1
33Taghleeb (KY)Jose L. Ortiz123Michael J. Maker7/2
44Snag (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJohn R. Velazquez117Todd A. Pletcher15/1
55Patterson Cross (KY)Jose Lezcano117William I. Mott4/1
66Reporting Star (FL)Javier Castellano119Brendan P. Walsh6/1
77Montclair (IRE)Nik Juarez119Armando De la cerda12/1
88Mr Maybe (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduatePaco Lopez119Chad C. Brown5/1