04/12/2012 3:51PM

Charles Town: Tackleberry fresher for second crack at $1 million Classic

Adam Coglianese
Tackleberry looks dangerous because of his speed when he makes the second start of his current form cycle in Saturday night's Charles Town Classic.

By the time Tackleberry loaded into the starting gate for last April’s $1 million Charles Town Classic, he had run four times in 2011 and 10 times in 10 months.

After setting the pace in the three-turn race, Tackleberry faded to fourth, four lengths behind fellow Florida-based Duke of Mischief.

Saturday night, when Tackleberry re-loads into the Charles Town starting gate for the Classic, he will be making just his second start in 11 months against a markedly weaker group that includes the off-form Duke of Mischief.

The Charles Town Classic, a Grade 2 for the first time, tops a 13-race program that begins at 5 p.m. Eastern. The Classic, run around three turns at 1 1/8 miles, goes as race 12 (10:30 p.m.) and is the last of six stakes on the program. There is a $50,000-guaranteed, all-stakes pick four that culminates with the Charles Town Classic.

[MORE: Video previews, PPs, and wagering on the Charles Town Classic card]

Owner/trainer Luis Olivares gave Tackleberry a vacation following his ninth-place finish in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont last May. He came back in a difficult spot, running second behind Mucho Macho Man in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 10. He finished a half-length in front of Jackson Bend, who came back to win last weekend’s Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct.

“I thought his comeback race was real good,” Olivares said. “I’m very happy the way he’s come back this year. He was very good after the race. He’s ready for Saturday.”

Tackleberry has good early speed, something he displayed in last year’s race again in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. That speed may serve him well on Saturday when he breaks from post 2 under Rajiv Maragh.

“I think there is less speed than last year and the track is playing real fast this year. It may help him,” Olivares said. “He doesn’t have to be on the lead, he can lay second too.”

Redding Colliery, who finished third in this race in 2010, won the Evening Attire at Aqueduct in January in front-running fashion. He didn’t make the lead in the Excelsior when he finished fourth as the favorite. Entered in a turf stakes at Aqueduct on Friday, Redding Colliery will run in this spot instead, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

The race includes three California shippers, the most interesting of which may be Uh Oh Bango, who has to deal with the outside post in the 10-horse field.

Uh Oh Bango won the Grade 2 San Pasqual before finishing second to Game On Dude in the San Antonio and third to Ron the Greek in the Santa Anita Handicap. He seems to have found a niche as a horse that takes back and makes one run.

“I think he finally figured out how he likes to run and I think the riders have started to figure him out,” said trainer Kory Owens, who has Aaron Gryder replacing Mike Smith, who is at Oaklawn.

Tres Borrachos and Skipshot, second and third, respectively, to Uh On Bango in the San Pasqual, are also in from California as is Norvsky, a graded stakes winner on turf.

Duke of Mischief won last year’s Charles Town Classic after losing the Gulfstream Park Handicap by three-quarters of a length to Tackleberry.

Duke of Mischief has lost his last five starts, including an 11th-place finish in a turf stakes at Tampa Bay on Feb. 25.

“I was very disappointed in his effort,” trainer David Fawkes said. “He seems to have come back to himself. His works are really good, his attitude is good. I’m not jumping out of my skin, but I don’t think it’s a tougher race than it was last year.”

Mister Marti Gras and Pants On Fire, fourth and fifth in the New Orleans Handicap on April 1, wheel back on short rest.

Caixa Eletronica, sixth in the General George last out, completes the field for top connections Todd Pletcher and Javier Castellano.

Charles Town Classic S. (G2), Post Time: 10:30 ET Saturday

Purse: $1,000,000; 1 1/8 miles





ML Odds


Tres Borrachos

M. Jones

K. Carmouche




L. Olivares

R. Maragh



Mister Marti Gras

N. Pessin

J. Leparoux



Pants on Fire

K. Breen

R. Napravnik




J. Hollendorfer

T. Dunkelberger



Caixa Electronica

T. Pletcher

J. Castellano



Duke of Mischief

D. Fawkes

J. Bravo




D. Warren

K. Krigger



Redding Colliery

K. McLaughlin

A. Garcia



Uh Oh Bango

R. Owens

A. Gryder



Norman Asbjornson (AE)

C. Grove

J. Acosta



Cease (AE)

A. Stall, Jr.

M. Mena



Eighttofasttocatch (AE)

T. Keefe

S. Russell