Tackleberry continued his amazing run at Gulfstream Park with a front-running score in the one mile Gulfstream Park H. (G2) on March 12 (VIDEO
). The 4-year-old son of Montbrook has already won at seven furlongs (Grade 2 Gulfstream Sprint Championship) and nine furlongs ($500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic) during the meet.
With a well-matched field of eight, the $300,000 Handicap presented a tough challenge for Tackleberry. As he normally does, he went to the front right out of the gate. The pace was reasonable, at :47.68 for four furlongs, with Tackleberry a length in front. He repelled the challenge of Tizway on the turn, then held off a hard-charging Soaring Empire and resilient Tizway in the stretch to win a three-way photo by a neck and nose, respectively. The final time for the mile was 1:35.23, earning Tackleberry his second consecutive Beyer Speed Figure of 103, a career best.
“The trainer (Frank Olivares) told me to go to the front no matter what,” said winning rider Javier Santiago. “He said ‘if you need to use him in the beginning, use him. I want to see him in front.’ He’s a very special horse. My horse, when he goes to the front, he likes to fight. My horse saw the horse on the outside (Soaring Empire) and that was it.”
“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)."
Olivares, who also owns Tackleberry, bought the dark bay privately as a 2-year-old from breeder Ocala Stud Farm, where Montbrook stands. Out of the Concerto mare Box of Joy, began his current run with a six-furlong allowance win at Calder last October. He won an optional claimer going a mile the next month and then scored in his stakes debut a week later in the restricted Jack Dudley Sprint H. Tackleberry won the nine-furlong Fred Hooper Handicap (G3), also at Calder, on Dec. 11, before going on his current run.
Tackleberry now has a record of 8-2-0 in 11 starts, with earnings of $757,225. Tackleberry, along with 2011 graded stakes winner Big Drama, have propelled Montbrook to the top of this year's Florida stallion rankings. The venerable stallion has been the leading sire in the Sunshine State on four different occasions.