Our Nautique, given a heady front-running ride by Keven Krigger, led all the way at 19-1 odds to register his first North American stakes win in the $100,000 San Francisco Mile (gr. IIIT) on the turf at Golden Gate Fields (VIDEO).
The 6-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding dictated an even pace before taking a clear advantage in upper stretch and turned back a challenge from Gallant Son and 11-10 choice Sebastian Flyte to tally by 1 1/4 lengths. The final time was 1:35.70 over firm going.
Rob Tunnicliffe bred and co-owns the winner in partnership with trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who also won the San Francisco Mile in 2003 with Ninebanks.
Breaking alertly from the rail for Krigger, who was aboard the son of Aussie sire Pins for the first time, Our Nautique went to the front over Hudson Landing early and led that one and Blue Chagall through even fractions of :24.20, :48.48, and 1:11.81.
Our Nautique took a clear advantage into the stretch as Gallant Son, getting a ground-saving ride from William Antongeorgi III, kicked into gear. Sebastian Flyte, after clearing traffic problems on the final turn, closed from the far outside for Patrick Valenzuela.
But they could not get to a determined Our Nautique, who held sway away under urging in the final furlong to win with surprising ease.
"That was a spectacular race this horse ran today," Krigger said. "I had a lot of horse under me and we had a perfect trip being the lone speed. It worked out perfectly. He was pretty confident all the way around there. Turning for home I wound him up and he gave me all he had. He ran huge.
Gallant Son held second by three-quarters of a length over fellow Southern California shipper Sebastian Flyte. Eight-year-old Bold Chieftain, winner of last year's San Francisco Mile, finished 1 1/4 lengths farther back in fourth in the field of nine. He was followed by Baton Roo, Hudson Landing, Blue Chagall, Dream Nettie, and Times Gone By.
Based in Northern California, Our Natique won for the second time in three starts on the Golden Gate grass with one second. The bay, who began his career in New Zealand, has been a gem of consistency on both turf and synthetic tracks since since last July. In 10 starts since a poor U.S. debut at five furlongs on Golden Gate's Tapeta a month earlier, he has five wins, three seconds, and two thirds.
Our Nautique was coming off a runner-up effort as the even-money choice in the one-mile March Madness Handicap over the Santa Anita turf March 26. Out of French Tide, by Dauphin Fabuleux, Our Nautique improved to 7-4-4 in 24 lifetime starts with earnings of $191,340.
“He’d been off a while and probably needed his last race a little bit," said Hollendorfer by phone from Churchill Downs. "He couldn’t quite hold on last time although I thought he ran a good race. I went over the race with Kevin yesterday. We thought we’d probably be the speed in the race and with the rail post we decided to go with it. I’ve always liked this horse and he sure has come through for us a number of times.”
Under equal weight of 122 pounds, Our Nautique paid a generous $40.40, $16, and $7.40 as the third-longest shot on the board. Gallant Son returned $10.20 and $5.40 in his Golden Gate turf debut for trainer Frank Lucarelli, completing a $382.20 exacta. Sebastian Flyte, powerful winner of a nine-furlong allowance test in his most recent try for trainer Ben Cecil, was $2.60 to show.
“He couldn’t grab hold of the turf," Valenzuela said of the beaten favorite. "That’s pretty much all that happened. He was spinning his wheels on the turf.”