04/27/2013 7:36PM

Golden Gate Fields: San Francisco Mile tight finish goes to Tigah

Vassar Photography
Tigah, ridden by Alonso Quinonez, nips Summer Hit by a neck in the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile.

ALBANY, Calif. -- Tigah and Summer Hit battled for favoritism on the tote board and then hooked up in the stretch of the Grade 3, $100,000 San Francisco Mile with the fast-finishing favorite Tigah proving best in the one-mile turf race at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

Summer Hit set the pace, which was contested early by a stubborn Coach Bob. While Summer Hit was setting brisk fractions, Tigah was content to sit back. He was last after the opening quarter and had only one of his nine rivals beaten after the opening half as Summer Hit set a 46.54-second pace.

Tigah ($6.20) began to move up on the turn while five wide and was able to find a clear path into the stretch as he quickened to challenge Summer Hit. He seemed to have plenty of momentum, but Summer Hit dug in and gamely held off his rival until the final strides when Tigah pushed past him to win by a neck in 1:36.64. Gallant Son won a three-way photo for third from Grand Better and Tribal Tribute, finishing 3 1/2 lengths behind Summer Hit.

 "He's a miler," said winning trainer John Sadler of the 5-year-old British-bred horse, who was off nine months after a chip taken out of knee after running sixth in his American stakes debut in the Grade 2 American at Hollywood Park.

 "I really considered running here last year. I love races with a bit of history to them like this one."

 Sadler was confident during the race even when Tigah, ridden by Alonso Quinonez, was last early.

 "I told Alonso to ride him like he's the best horse and from off the pace. You've got to be patient. That's how you win these turf races."

 Quinonez was not concerned about his early position because he said, "I was able to swing him out and let him run his race."

 He followed Gallant Son to the middle of the second turn then made a crucial decision.

 "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."

 Russell Baze said he expected to stalk Coach Bob, but the pace was slow for Summer Hit and he didn't "want to put this horse in a spot where I'd have to be checking, checking, checking.

"He ran his eyeballs out. We were still running at the finish."

 Tigah earned $60,000 for his first stakes victory for owner Jawl Kamel. A winner of 4 of 13 starts in France and the United States, he has earned $178,604.