Pan American Handicap positioned to produce another star

Press Release
March 27, 2019 04:21pm
Canessar_Laurel Turf Cup 2017_615x400
Photo: Maryland Jockey Club

While the focus will be on classic contenders in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) Saturday at Gulfstream Park, the $250,000 Pan American Handicap (G2) has drawn many of the country’s top turf horses over its 58-year history.

Sadler’s Joy, Hi Happy, Twilight Eclipse, Imagining, Rahy’s Attorney, Fraise, Buck’s Boy Jambalaya, Presious Passion, Awad…the list of Grade 1 winners goes on and on and on and….

Saturday’s Pan American, for 4-year-olds and up over a 1 ½ mile turf course, has attracted a strong group of nine older horses including Focus Group, Canessar, Village King, Bigger Picture and Soglio.

First race post Saturday is 11:30 a.m. Doors to Silks open at 8 a.m. Doors to Ten Palms, Sport of Kings, and Flamingo Room open at 10 a.m. Doors to Makers Mark and Frankey’s Sports Bar open at 11 a.m.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who saddled Hi Happy to victory in last year’s Pan American, will send out Angels of Catalina, Inc.’s Village King, a 5-year-old originally from Argentina who won the Red Smith Nov. 17 at Aqueduct in his third start in the country. Since coming to South Florida, the 5-year-old has finished fourth over a sloppy track in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3), seventh on a yielding turf course in the McKnight (G3) and fifth last time out in the Mac Diarmida (G2) after setting the pace.

“He ran hard last time. He was on the lead for most of the Mac Diarmida,” Pletcher said. “It was a little soft the time before that [in the McKnight]. He’s a pretty versatile horse. He shows up and runs hard every time.”

John Velazquez rides Village King.

Sogli, a 5-year-old son of Scat Daddy, is one of two being sent out by trainer Mike Maker in the Pan American. Soglio has finished second in his last three starts – the McKnight most recently, and the H. Allen Jerkens Dec. 29 at Gulfstream and the Red Smith Nov. 17 at Aqueduct. Maker also sends out Bigger Picture, a winner last time out at Sam Houston in the John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3).

Rafael Hernandez rides Soglio while Tyler Gaffalione has the call on Bigger Picture.

Canessar, trained by Arnaud Delacour, was fifth in the McKnight when making his first start since July when finishing second in the Stars and Stripes (G3) at Arlington. Feargal Lynch rides. Focus Group, trained by Chad Brown, was last seen finishing third in the Canadian International (G1) at Woodbine in October.

Rounding out the field is Melmich, Nessy, Highland Sky and Salute the Colonel.


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