12/31/2016 5:57PM

Taghleeb sets course record in Allen Jerkens

Lauren King/Coglianese Photos
Taghleeb paid $7.00 in winning the Allen Jerkens Stakes.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Mike Maker said Taghleeb has continually given him the impression he was a horse who wanted more ground. And sure enough, his theory proved correct after the steadily improving former claimer surged to a convincing 1 3/4-length victory over Montclair in Saturday’s feature event at Gulfstream Park, the two-mile Allen Jerkens Stakes.

Under patient handling by Tyler Gaffalione, Taghleeb bided his time near the middle of the bulky 14-horse field for more than 1 1/2 miles, steadied momentarily as the leaders began to back up near the quarter pole, then had plenty left in the tank when a hole opened at the top of the stretch, finishing full of run near the center of the course to wear down Montclair and win going away. The latter rallied willingly near the inside once settling for the drive, but proved no match for the winner while easily second-best, checking home 2 1/2 lengths in front of Hunter O’Riley.

Taghleeb, a 5-year-old son of Hard Spun, was haltered by Maker in the interests of owner Michael Hull for $62,500 this summer at Saratoga. He has won two of five starts for his new connections, also winning a stakes at Remington Park before finishing seventh going 1 1/2 miles at Woodbine in the Grade 1 Canadian International.

Taghleeb set a course record after completing two miles in 3:22.20 and paid $7.00.        

“I didn’t think we were going to get through when they were stopping, but he (Gaffalione) put him in the right spot to win,” Maker said. “The way he’s trained all along and ran his races, he screamed out for more distance. He ran with a quality field in Canada, he had a wide trip with no pace, and only got beat three lengths. It looked like he needed more ground off that effort.”

Maker mentioned the 1 1/2-mile W L McKnight (G3) or the Pegasus World Cup undercard on Jan. 28, as a possible option for Taghleeb’s next start.