HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- No bute, no Lasix, no respect!
And no problem for the gritty Tackleberry, who continues to confound the experts and outrun just about everybody's expectations except those of his owner-trainer Luis Olivares. Saturday, Tackleberry held off Soaring Empire and Tizway to add the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap to his earlier victories this winter in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Sprint and Sunshine Millions Classic.
Despite carrying highweight of 121 pounds, Tackleberry led every step of the way under regular rider Javier Santiago to register his third graded stakes win in his last four starts and seventh win overall in his last eight races dating back to early October.
As expected, Tackleberry went right to the lead and set modest fractions of 24.59 seconds, 47.68 , and 1:11.19 while stalked by Grade 2 winner Tizway through the opening six furlongs. Turning for home, both Tizway and Soaring Empire took runs at Tackleberry but neither were good enough to get past the tenacious winner, who lasted by a neck over Soaring Empire with Tizway another nose further back in third.
Rule, the 2-1 favorite, saved ground but was done after six furlongs, finishing a disappointing sixth in a field of eight older horses.
Tackleberry ran a mile in 1:35.23 over the fast track and paid $11.
"They let him go 24 and change and think he's going to stop," said Olivares. "I knew I had them at the top of the stretch. They were never going to go by him. He's a fighter. Not an easy horse to beat."
Olivares said the $1 million Charles Town Classic on April 16 might be next for Tackleberry, who Olivares called the best horse in the east.
"He's beaten them all now," said Olivares.
Palm Beach: Joe's Blazing Aaron goes all the way
Like Tackleberry, Joe's Blazing Aaron led throughout to register a 1 3/4-length upset of 2-1 favorite Queen'splatekitten in the $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes, giving jockey Orlando Bocachica the first graded stakes victory of his riding career.
Joe's Blazing Aaron, a 3-year-old son of Graeme Hall trained by Allan Hunter Jr. for owner Joseph Witek, was able to cruise on a slow pace under Bocachica and had plenty left in reserve to post his second straight win in his stakes debut. The former claimer returned $25.40 after completing a mile and one-eighth in 1:47.85 over a firm course.
Newsdad rallied belatedly to finish third, a head behind Queen'splatekitten.
"We were hoping he wouldn't get any respect and the plan was to go to the lead," said Hunter. "When no one went with him I was pretty confident he'd go on just like he did last time."
Joe's Blazing Aaron led gate to wire to win a $50,000 claiming race four weeks earlier.
Hunter said Joe's Blazing Aaron would probably make his next start in the Transylvania at Keeneland on April 8.