01/31/2007 12:00AM

Tie Rod surprises rivals in Rattlesnake


Fans had to wait five extra days for the Rattlesnake Stakes to be run, but based on the performance of 9-1 shot Tie Rod, it was worth the wait.

The $45,000 Rattlesnake, a mile event for 3-year-olds, was originally slated to be run Jan. 21, but was postponed when that day's card was canceled due to inclement weather. It was brought back last Friday, and while most of the attention went to the likes of Ourtickethome, Waltz Time, Derouin, and Mr Charlypotatoes, it was Tie Rod who dominated the proceedings.

Tie Rod tracked the pace while saving ground along the inside under Juan Rivera, moved through to challenge for the lead on the far turn, then took over and cruised home 10 3/4 lengths ahead of runner-up Mr Charlypotatoes. Tie Rod paid $21.80 and ran the mile in a brisk 1:36.12. Mr Charlypotatoes sat back and rallied for second, though he was never a threat to the winner. He finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher In to the West in the field of nine.

Tie Rod's more publicized rivals failed to make a dent - Waltz Time was sixth, Derouin ran seventh, and Ourtickethome, the 8-5 favorite, finished eighth.

"I expected him to run huge at his first try at a mile," said Rivera. "I smooched at him at the three-eighths pole and he took off. He can run all day."

Owned by Joe Johnson and John Pendergast and trained by Johnson, Tie Rod notched his third victory from nine outings, while winning his second stakes race. Tie Rod is a logical candidate for the $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby, a 1 1/16-mile event scheduled for Feb. 17.