Olivares, Tackleberry Back For More In Gulfstream Park 'Cap
By Brian Skirka
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - In the past four months, Tackleberry has won five races including the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (G2), the Fred Hooper (G3), and the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic.
Those races were run at seven furlongs and 1 1/8 miles. Throw in the six-furlong Jack Dudley Sprint and an allowance race at a mile and it’s been a pretty wild ride for Tackleberry and owner/trainer Luis Olivares over the past 120 days.
“It’s been a fun couple of months,” Olivares said. “We’ve been celebrating a little bit.”
Olivares is hoping his 4-year-old son of Montbrook will give him cause for yet another celebration in Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2).
The one-mile event will already be Tackleberry’s fourth start of the year, but his trainer is not concerned about fatigue.
“He’s the only horse I’ve ever trained that I’ve run in races so close to each other, one race after another,” said Olivares, who conditioned Grade 1 turfers Flying Pidgeon and Powder Break back in the 1980’s. “All of these races haven’t seemed to take anything out of him. If he runs in a race one day, the next day he’s already kicking the walls of his stall down.”
Adding to the growing lure of Tackleberry is the fact that he runs medication-free.
“He’s never run on lasix,” said Olivares of the legal anti-bleeding medication. “He doesn’t run on bute either. He doesn’t need it.”
Tackleberry will certainly need his A-game on Saturday, as four (Rule, Jackson Bend, Tizway and Pulsion) of his seven competitors have Grade 1 placing on their resume – the other three (Our Dark Knight, Duke of Mischief and Soaring Empire) have combined to earn just shy over $1.5 million.
“He’s still training really well,” Olivares said of Tackleberry. “He’s training the same way now as he was going into his last race.”
Despite having raced six times – going on seven – since the beginning of November, Tackleberry is still a relatively lightly-raced runner. From 11 career starts, the gelding has a record of 7-2-0 and earnings of nearly $600,000.
“I knew we had a nice horse when we were first bringing him to the races in July of his 3-year-old year ,” Olivares said. “You could just tell he was a runner. But I didn’t think he would turn out to be this kind of horse.”
While Tackleberry has grown up to prove that he is, in fact, a runner, his trainer says he still isn’t sure at what distance his horse does his best running.
“I honestly don’t know what his best distance is,” Olivares said. “He’s run so big at all of them.”
Having trained multiple Grade 1 winners in America since arriving from his native Cuba in 1962, Olivares has an extensive resume of stakes horses to compare to Tackleberry.
Just where his current superstar falls on that list, however, is still up in the air.
“I’ve trained nice horses my entire life,” Olivares said. “I can’t really compare him to horses like Flying Pidgeon and Powder Break. But he’s the best horse I’ve got in the barn right now.”