(Photo: Bound for Nowhere and Julio Garcia won the Tourist Mile over Great Wide Open. Grace Clark/Reed Palmer Photography)
Bound for Nowhere had never been beyond six furlongs, but owner-trainer Wesley Ward was more than willing to take a shot. And now he’s bound for the bank after Bound For Nowhere and jockey Julio Garcia defeated Great Wide Open by a length in Saturday’s featured $681,400 Tourist Mile, presented by WinStar Farm, on opening day Kentucky Downs.
Ward has won a more lucrative race as an owner, when Judy the Beauty captured the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in 2014.
“But we’ll take this one for sure,” he said. “My son called me from the University of Miami. He’s on a full-ride scholarship from the Bank of Dad. So I said he’s good again for next year.”
The 4-year-old Bound for Nowhere's most recent start yielded an admirable third-place finish at Royal Ascot in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee, beaten less than a length running a straight six furlongs. However, he entered the Tourist Mile undefeated here at home, and the Tourist Mile was his fifth win in as many starts on domestic soil.
“I’ve always wanted to stretch him out, always thought he was a miler,” Ward said. “He’s a big colt, rangy guy, got big airway, has no issues, no problems. It’s just he’s so good at sprinting. When he ran at Ascot and ran so well, this was the race we were pointing for all along. But the closer we got to it, the more I was second-guessing where I would go. But thanks to Julio and the team I have, we all got together and made a decision and it turned out right.”
The race played out in a straightforward way. Great Wide Open, considered an outsider by bettors at 18-1 in the seven-horse field, went straight to the lead under James Graham while Bound for Nowhere and Julio Garcia stalked as the 9-5 second choice. Mr. Misunderstood, the 6-5 favorite, bided his time on the rail in fourth around the turn behind the top two as Bandar made a short-lived run at the leaders heading into the stretch.
Well out on the track running in the lane, Bound for Nowhere and jockey Julio Garcia drew clear in mid-stretch and defeated a stubborn Great Wide Open by a length while completing matters in 1:40.97 over turf rated firm. Bound for Nowhere paid $5.60 to win, $3.40 to place and $2.40 to show.
“Conor said he was doing good,” Graham said of Great Wide Open trainer Conor Murphy. “He ran his race. I love him. he’s one of those good kind because he tries hard every time. The couple of times he hasn’t run good, the ground had been too hard, they ran quick in front of him. He ran quick today, and he didn’t slow down. The best horse won.”
“That was a lovely run,” Murphy said. “I was a big worried coming down here that the ground would be too firm, but there’s a nice little bit of give in there, which his horse needs. I didn’t expect him to beat Wesley’s horse or Mr. Misunderstood. But we know he handles this track because he ran over similar tracks in Ireland, so we thought we’d take a shot. We’re delighted. We gave him a break after Canterbury (when eighth in the Mystic Lake Mile) because I ran him eight times in three months, which I never do with my horses. But he’s that type of horse that needs to run. I’m elated. Lovely run off the layoff.”
Mr. Misunderstood stayed on to finish third, another 1 1/4 lengths back, edging Krampus by a neck. Those four were followed by Bandar, Mr Cub and Camelot Kitten. Master Merion was scratched.
Mr. Misunderstood lost for only the fourth time in 14 turf starts.
“He was never on the bit, completely off the bridle,” said jockey Florent Geroux. “He never traveled well. I was kind of pushing on him the whole way.”
Bound for Nowhere’s biggest problem was loading, as he balked several times before going in.
“He’s always a very relaxed horse,” Ward said. “It’s just when he gets to the gate that’s the issue. He had problems at Ascot, had problems at Keeneland in the spring. He gets there and kind of throws his head up and doesn’t want to load, kind of gets a little hot and anxious. He’s like a pony (otherwise). My daughter could gallop the horse with two hands; he’s a sweet heart. That’s one of the reasons we thought he’d go a mile.”
Bound for Nowhere swung his head around going into the gate, but Ward gave Kentucky Downs starter Spec Alexander, also the starter at Keeneland, credit.
“Spec has been working on him at Keeneland,” said Ward, whose main base is Keeneland. “He knows him very well. We’ve schooled him multiple times at Keeneland and he was ready for him today.”
After impressively breaking his maiden in his debut on Turfway Park's synthetic surface in January of last year, Bound for Nowhere won a turf allowance going 5 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland by more than four lengths. He finished a solid fourth in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot next, followed by a sound beating in the LARC Prix Maurice de Gheest in August. Bound for Nowhere returned seven months later to win a Turfway allowance, and he won the Grade 2 Shakertown at Keeneland a month after that before heading to Ascot.
Overall, Bound for Nowhere has five wins from eight starts with a third, and counting the Tourist Mile purse of $455,700 has total earnings of $755,683. Ward purchased Bound for Nowhere for $310,000.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Wayne Lyster, Gray Lyster and Bryan Lyster. He's out of the Alydeed mare Fancy Deed.