A patient ride by Alonso Quinonez paid off for Tigah when he nabbed pacesetter Summer Hit for a neck victory in the $100,000 San Francisco Mile (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) April 27 on the turf at Golden Gate Fields.
Last after leaving from the rail in the 10-horse field, the English-bred Tigah saved ground before launching his bid from seventh at the quarter pole when angled five wide rounding the turn. Tigah passed rivals quickly in the stretch and got up just before the wire in a game effort. He registered his first stakes win in a time of 1:36.64 over firm ground.
Shipped north by Southern California trainer John Sadler, Tigah was the slight 2-1 favorite over Summer Hit, who also went off at 2-1 after being sent north by Jerry Hollendorfer.
Summer Hit, ridden by Russell Baze, carved honest fractions of :23.21, :46.54, and 1:11.37 while engaged with Coach Bob before taking control in the lane. Summer Hit led by 1 1/2 lengths at mid-stretch but could not withstand Tigah at the wire. Gallant Son, in good position for Dennis Carr, lacked the needed late kick and wound up third, 3 3/4 lengths behind the winner.
"I took back and ended up being last but I was able to swing him out and let him run his race," said Quinonez. "I saw (Gallant Son) was in perfect position and I just followed him to the middle of the second turn. I had to make a decision to either wait and try to split horses, or go around. I decided to go around because I saw the horse in front and knew I couldn't wait any more.
"He just exploded when I swung him out (turning into the stretch)," continued Quinonez. "At first I thought I was going to go right by but when (Summer Hit) felt my horse, he responded. But my horse had all the momentum and kept on going."
Baze was pleased with Summer Hit's effort, even though he believes the 4-year-old gelding wasn't keeping his mind on business in the stretch.
"He ran his eyeballs out," said Baze. "You know, he really wasn't focused down the lane. If he had put his head down and run I don't know if the other horse would have caught him. Usually when you ask him, he lays his body down and runs for you. Today he shifted in when I hit him and wasn't completely focused.
"You can't take anything away from the winner," continued Baze. "We were still running at the finish."
Grand Berry was a neck farther back in fourth, followed by Tribal Tribute, defending San Francisco Mile winner Hudson Landing, Control Seeker, Barney Rebel, Coach Bob, and Charlemagne Wood.
Owned by Karnel Jawl, 5-year-old Tigah is a son of Dalakhani out of the Platini mare Macina. He was bred by Newsells Park Stud.
The winning bay horse was coming off a close third-place finish in the one-mile Thunder Road Stakes April 6 on the Santa Anita Park turf. The mile specialist, in his initial appearance at Golden Gate, won for the second time in seven starts in the United States after beginning his career in France.
Tigah's career record improved to 4-3-2 in 13 starts with earnings of $178,604.
Under equal weights of 122 pounds, Tigah paid $6.20, $3, $2.40. Summer Hit returned $3.20 and $2.80. The exacta was worth $17.60. Gallant Son, who was also third in last year's San Francisco Mile, paid $4 to show.