HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Four weeks after winning the longest race of his career, Grupo 7C Racing Stable’s veteran campaigner Grand Tito will stretch out even further in Saturday’s $200,000 Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
The 55th running of the 1 ½-mile Pan American for 4-year-olds and up on the turf is part of a blockbuster 14-race program that features eight stakes, seven of them graded, anchored by the 65th running of the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1).
A consistent miler for much of his career, Grand Tito stretched out to 1 3/8 miles in the Mac Diarmida (G2) March 5 at Gulfstream, racing near the lead throughout before taking over at the top of the stretch and holding off Kaigun to win by 1 ¼ lengths.
It was the second straight win for the 6-year-old son of Candy Ride and second career graded stakes victory, following the 2014 Miami Mile Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park West. Grand Tito has finished in the top three in 13 of 19 lifetime starts at Gulfstream, six of them wins.
“I think that in his other races, the horse was in very good condition and maybe he needed to run in the longer distances. He is a very, very good horse. He has run some good races in his life and after the last race we are going to keep him running in the longer distances,” trainer Gustavo Delgado said.
Championship Meet-leading rider Javier Castellano will be aboard from post four in the 11-horse field. Castellano last rode Grand Tito to a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Miesque’s Approval Stakes last July at Gulfstream. They will start at topweight of 123 pounds.
“His last race was very good. He had never run the long distances before and that was the first time. He did so well in the last race that I don’t think he will have a problem going the long distances,” Delgado said. “He is in very good condition and he’s is training very good, and we have the top rider on him. It’s all very important.”
Gary Barber, Quintessential Racing Florida and Horse’n Around Racing Stable’s Kaigun looks to end a string of four straight runner-up finishes in the Pan American. Prior to the Mac Diarmida, the Northern Afleet gelding opened his 6-year-old season running behind Da Big Hoss in the John Connally (G3) at Sam Houston Jan. 30 after ending 2015 with a neck loss to Charming Kitten in the W. L. McKnight (G3) Dec. 26 at Gulfstream.
“He came out of his last race good. He’s a tough son of a gun,” trainer Mark Casse said. “He tries hard every time, unfortunately recently it seems like there’s always one horse that beats him. He’ll beat one that beat him before and then a new one pops up.”
Kaigun has finished in the top three in 16 of 27 lifetime starts with five wins including the Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) and Play the King Stakes (G2) in 2014, with a career bankroll of $1,242,075.
“I call him our little ATM machine,” Casse said. “He’s always earning money and it would be nice to see him get it done. He deserves to win one of these.”
Joe Bravo, up for Kaigun’s last three races, gets a return call from post one at 119 pounds.
Grade 1 winner Twilight Eclipse, who set a 1 ½-mile world record winning the 2013 Pan American in 2:22.63 and was third last year, was entered for main track only by trainer Tom Albertani after finishing last of seven in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) Feb. 6, his 7-year-old debut.
OTI Racing’s Irish-bred Montclair won the 2014 Prix de Lutece (G3) going 1 15/16 miles in France and will be making his fourth North American start in the Pan American and second at Gulfstream after winning a 1 3/16-mile second-level optional claiming allowance Feb. 3. Julien Leparoux is named to ride from post 10 at 119 pounds.
Rounding out the field are O’Prado Ole, most recently fourth in the Mac Diarmida; Xaverian, second in the two-mile H. Allen Jerkens Stakes Jan. 23 at Gulfstream; St. Albans Boy, winner of the 2015 Laurel Turf Cup at 1 ½ miles and third in the Jerkens; recent Gulfstream winners Seeking Alpha, Hello Don Julio, Jay Gatsby; and German-bred Wake Forest making his second North American start and first since the 2015 Arlington Million (G1).
Source: Gulfstream Park