12/12/2009 1:00AM

Tie Rod shows old form in Mills

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Apparently Stable H.M.A. and trainer Ed Kereluck knew what they were doing when they plunked down $20,000 to claim Tie Rod on Nov. 17. The 5-year-old gelding, a stakes winner at 3, recaptured some of his former luster, posting a mild upset in Saturday's $50,000 Hank Mills Sr. Handicap at Turf Paradise.

Tie Rod sat fifth for the first half of the mile main-track event under Daniel Vergara, commenced a smart run between horses on the turn, swept to the lead into the lane, opened up as if he would win clear, and then needed all his heart to just get to the wire a nose in front of the hard-charging defending champ Highland Games.

Highland Games rallied from well back to just miss while finishing more than two lengths ahead of Western Act in third. Bingham, the 4-5 favorite, ran fifth in the field of eight, with second choice Mutak Gold (3-1) posting a second straight dull outing, finishing last.

Tie Rod ran the distance in 1:35.62 and paid $21.80. The winner's share of $30,000 pushes his career bankroll to $212,236 from 7 wins in 27 starts.