Michael Hui’s Taghleeb was the recipient of a very well-timed ride by Tyler Gaffalione in Saturday’s Grade 3 W. L. McKnight, making the lead in mid-stretch with just enough left in the tank to hold off the late rush of Sadler’s Joy, winning by a head on the wire. The 6-year-old son of Hard Spun covered 12 furlongs over Gulfstream Park’s firm turf in 2:25.90 for trainer Mike Maker.
Diamond Bachelor led through most of the early part of the race, holding a one-length advantage over Patterson Cross through modest fractions of :24.72, :49.31 and 1:13.35. Veteran Twilight Eclipse was tucked in to third along the rail, with Charming Kitten making up the back of the first pack of horses. Near the rear of the second pack was Taghleeb, saving ground along the rail in the early going.
Rounding the far turn for the second time, Patterson Cross took over the lead as Taghleeb moved into seventh. Angled wide on the last part of the turn, Taghleeb was able to carry his momentum and build on it down the lane, taking over from Patterson Cross in mid-stretch. Sadler’s Joy was closing like a freight train in the final 100 yards, but Gaffalione had saved just enough horse to keep Taghleeb’s head in front at the wire. Sadler’s Joy had to settle for second, and Patterson Cross held on for third. Twilight Eclipse checked in fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by Shadwell, Taghleeb was recording his first graded win in the McKnight. The horse also has several listed stakes victories to his name, boasting a record of 6-4-4 from 25 starts for earnings of nearly $ 450,000.
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