05/03/2011 11:57AM

Golden Gate: Our Nautique easy to figure, tough to catch

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Marcel Langevin/Vassar Photography
Our Nautique, Kevin Krigger aboard, rolls to a wire-to-wire win in the San Francisco Mile.

In retrospect, it was easy.

Our Nautique’s wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile was one of those races where you know a horse will be on the lead, but you expect him to get caught late. Only it didn’t happen.

Our Nautique’s win in the San Francisco Mile gave trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and jockey Kevin Krigger their second straight stakes victory at Golden Gate Fields. One week earlier, Krigger rode the Hollendorfer-trained U R All That I Am to a win in the Work the Crowd, also on the turf.

Hollendorfer, who watched the race from Churchill Downs, and Krigger talked over their strategy Friday.

“We thought we’d probably be the speed in the race, and with the rail post, we decided to go with it,” Hollendorfer said. “I don’t think he needs to be on the lead, but a lot of times it depends on the break, and he usually breaks well.”

Our Nautique broke nicely, and Krigger instantly knew what to do. He let out Our Nautique bound to the lead. Horse and rider immediately got into a comfort zone.

Krigger had been working the one-eyed 6-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding and felt good about his chances the whole way.

“It’s a lot of confidence for me having a horse like that under me,” Krigger said. “You just put them in a comfortable spot.”

Our Nautique set moderate, steady fractions while holding a one-length lead, and picked up the pace the final half mile.

Trainer Bill Morey Jr., who sent out the defending champion and fourth-place finisher Bold Chieftain in the San Francisco Mile, credited Krigger’s ride for the win. Hollendorfer agreed.

“I thought he rode him perfectly,” he said of Krigger’s performance.

Krigger appreciates Hollendorfer’s confidence, not to mention the mounts he’s put him on.

“Jerry’s given me perfect instructions, and Jerry always has them ready,” Krigger said. “I’m thankful for him being so good to me.”

Berkeley next for Our Nautique

The Grade 3 Berkeley on May 30 on the Tapeta main track is the next target for both Our Nautique and fourth-place finisher Bold Chieftain, who has lost by a head in the Berkeley the past two years.

Our Nautique has two wins, a second and a third over the Tapeta.

Morey felt Bold Chieftain finished all right in a race he probably needed and was pleased with the way he came out of the race.

“He cleaned up the [feed] bucket, and he was walking well the next morning,” Morey said.

Frank Lucarelli, trainer of runner-up Gallant Son, will freshen Gallant Son at trainer Ed Moger Jr.’s farm for a couple weeks before heading south with him.

“He ran a good race, but I thought there’d be a little more pace,” Lucarelli said. “We’ll keep him on turf or dirt because he doesn’t seem to like this Tapeta surface.”

The Joseph Grace on the turf at Santa Rosa is a possible long-range goal for Gallant Son, and Lucarelli might look at the Alamedan at Pleasanton.

Trainer Andy Mathis said that he would nominate the lightly raced Baton Roo to the Berkeley, but hoped he would find a second-level allowance spot for him. Baton Roo ran fifth in the San Francisco Mile.

“We want to take it one step at a time, but the San Francisco Mile was a good experience for him,” said Mathis.

◗ The California Horse Racing Board approved the meet applications for the summer’s first two racing fairs, the San Joaquin County Fair at Stockton (June 15-19) and the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton (June 22-July 10).

◗ Golden Gate Fields will open its gates at 7:15 a.m. both Friday and Saturday and carry all the races from Churchill Downs both days. On Saturday, first post at Golden Gate is 11:45 a.m.

◗ Golden Gate will offer mint juleps and host its third annual “Run for the Roses Hat Contest” with $1,800 in prizes as well as live music with Pop Fiction on Saturday. There will also be music by Pride & Joy on Dollar Day Sunday as well as a special Mother’s Day brunch in the turf club.