ARCADIA, CA – Matt Nelson homebred Wound Tight was a perfect example of why lone speed on turf can be deadly when he easily wired Saturday’s $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 5 under Abel Cedillo at 3/1 odds, Wound Tight outlegged Accountability for sole command as the field passed the judges for the first time. Heading into the clubhouse turn with a lead slightly greater than a length, Wound Tight settled along the inside while posting fractions of :23.39, :48.62, 1:13.00, and 1:36.61 for the opening mile.
Midway through the far turn, Cono tried to advance along his outside, but Cedillo gave Wound Tight his cue and it was over from there. Kept to task under only mild urging in the stretch, Wound Tight cleared away before crossing victorious by 3 1/2 lengths.
Trained by Bob Hess, Jr., Wound Tight completed the 1 1/8-mile event over the firm turf course in a final time of 1:48.24.
“This horse is very strong on the lead,” Cedillo said. “There was no pace, so he was tough on the lead. He never got tired. We came back in front of the grandstand (after the race) and he still wanted to run.”
The 2/1 favorite Ward ‘n Jerry fell victim to the winner’s uncontested pace after running in sixth for much of the early running, rallying late to take second by a 1/2-length over Cono. Ashleyluvssugar finished fouth ahead of The Hunted, who necked out Desmond Doss for fifth.
Accountability and Mobou completed the order of finish.
Wound Tight’s win came in his stakes debut and was his second straight following a gate-to-wire score while going a mile against open company at Del Mar on December 1. The 5-year-old gelded son of Coil now sports a record of 10-4-2-2 with $266,340 earned.
“The race set up perfect,” said Gerardo Morales, assistant to Hess, Jr. “The horse likes to run on the front end. I was a little concerned about going a mile and 1/8, that it was too far for him, but he definitely got the job done. I’m really happy with him. When I saw the fractions, I said, ‘We have a big chance,’ and when they turned for home, I knew it was all over.”
Wound Tight returned $8 to win, $3.80 to place, and $3.20 to show. Ward ‘n Jerry brought back $3.80 to place and $2.80 to show, while Cono paid $8.20 to show.