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Tackleberry Goes The Distance In Gulfstream Sprint
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Tackleberry is rapidly establishing himself as a horse for every occasion. It doesn’t matter how far or how short the 4-year-old colt is asked to run, he’s going to run his race.
And most of the time, his race is good enough to get him to the winner’s circle.Just two weeks after registering a dominating 2-1/2-length victory in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at 1-1/8 miles, Tackleberry ($10.50) made a victorious return to action Saturday in the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (G2), prevailing by two lengths at the abbreviated distance of seven furlongs.
“The one thing that had me scared was the big cutback in distance. At seven furlongs, you have to put a little more speed into the race,” jockey Javier Santiago said. “This is his moment. He’s just winning at every distance. A mile and an eighth, seven furlongs, six furlongs, it doesn’t matter.”
The Florida-bred colt, who is owned and trained by Luis Olivares, adapted nicely to the cutback in distance, breaking alertly from the gate to stalk pacesetter Gaucho along the backstretch and around the turn. Meanwhile, Soaring Empire, the 4-5 favorite ridden by Jose Lezcano broke slowly from the starting gate to trail the eight-horse field. Leaving the turn into the homestretch, Tackleberry opened up quickly and continued on through the stretch to post his seventh victory in his last nine starts. Soaring Empire, who had unseated his rider after being loaded into the starting gate, made a strong late run to nose out Caixa Eletronica for second money.
The versatile Tackleberry ran seven furlongs in 1:22 4/5.
“He just loves to run,” said Olivares, whose colt boosted his earnings to $577,225 with the $90,000 payday. “He came bouncing out of his last race ready to do something (train) the next day. I had to do something with him or I was afraid he might hurt himself in his stall.”
Soaring Empire, who has had a history of bad behavior in the gate, had previously won the Hal’s Hope (G3), finishing more than five lengths ahead of fourth-place-finisher Tackleberry in the one-mile race on Jan. 8.
“He just went crazy in the gate and almost flipped over,” Lezcano said. “When the gates opened, he just galloped out of there and didn’t really give me anything.”
Olivares said the one-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) on March 12 is a likely spot for Tackleberry’s next start.
Winning Twice the Fun for Martin
Clyde Martin visited the winner’s circle as a victorious trainer and jockey following a front-running victory by Nathan’s H Q in the second race.
A rarity in Thoroughbred racing, the 52-year-old St. Petersburg native has been licensed as both a trainer and jockey for nearly four years. His winning-ride aboard Thomas Carey’s Nathan’s H Q was his 1851st as a jockey, while giving Martin his 17th training triumph.
Nathan’s H Q ($10.80) was nominated to the Gulfstream Turf Handicap, but Martin opted for the second race the 4-year-old colt’s 2011 debut. The son of Yonaguska was sent right to the lead from the starting gate and held gamely in the stretch to score by a neck in the six-furlong allowance race.
“He’s a real personable type of horse. He’s just seems to relax a little bit with me,’’ said Martin, whose colt has won four of seven lifetime starts. “He’s such a smart horse. He’s naturally a nice horse.
In the fourth race, Furthest Land ($7) visited a winner’s circle for the first time since capturing the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita. Making his first start since June, the 6-year-old gelding closed with a rush from last under Julien Leparoux to prevail over Baltimore Bob by a neck in the one-mile turf allowance.
Brethren Remains Undefeated
Brethren, a half-brother to 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, won his third straight victory without defeat in Saturday’s $225,000 Sam Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. Trained by Todd Pletcher at Gulfstream Park’s Palm Meadows training center, the WinStar Farm’s homebred colt stalked the early pace before drawing off to a convincing four-length victory under Ramon Dominguez.
Brethren broke a little slowly from his far-outside No. 10 post in his two-turn debut but recovered to closely stalk the pace before moving to the lead on the far turn and drawing away under mild encouragement.
“Any time you run a horse two turns for the first time – and off of a 70-day layoff – you don’t know how they’re going to respond,” said WinStar Farm’s Elliott Walden. “I was very pleased with how he did it and the ease that he did it with.”
An early nomination for the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream on April 3, Brethren was making his 2011 debut while running 1-1/16 miles in 1:45. The 4-5 favorite won his career debut at Belmont Park last October before capturing an entry-level allowance race at Churchill Downs in November.
“He won it like a good horse should,” said Dominguez of Brethren’s stakes debut.