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Breeders' Cup 2017

Texas Ryano competes on dirt for the first time in Californian

Texas Ryano beats Quotient at Santa Anita (6-13-14).
Photo: Benoit Photo

Saturday will mark a day of firsts for Texas Ryano, when the six-year-old full horse owned and bred by Warren Williamson runs in the Grade II Californian Stakes for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on dirt.

For the first time in a career of 20 races, all on turf, the chestnut son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin will race on the main track. He will have a new rider in Mike Smith, and for the first time in 15 starts, will race without blinkers.

Texas Ryano had been scheduled to run in Saturday’s marathon San Juan Capistrano Stakes on grass, but owner/breeder Warren Williamson called an audible and trainer Carla Gaines entered him in the Californian.

“If he happens to excel on dirt, perhaps it would enhance his value if he stands somewhere as a stallion,” said Gaines, who has enjoyed a successful business association with Williamson for three decades.

Texas Ryano, a stone closer, has a 5-3-3 record in those 20 grass starts, with earnings of $442,700. He rallied five wide to finish fifth in the Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes at a mile and a half on turf March 25.

The earliest he has been in front in any race came at the stretch call, and then but once, against five foes in the Grade II, mile and a half Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar last Nov. 25.

“We often get caught so far back in those slow-paced grass races, because there’s no pace up front,” Gaines said.

“Texas Ryano still comes flying, but they quicken up front and he usually has to circle the field trying catch the horses up front galloping along in 49 and 50 (for a half-mile). We’re a victim of a slow pace and have to cover more ground. Curlins can run on dirt, but on his dam side (the Irish-bred Blending Element), it’s all grass.

“Mr. Williamson and I have had great success through the years, and there’s nothing wrong with trying the horse on dirt.”

The Californian, race eight of 10 with a 1 p.m. first post time: Collected, Martin Garcia, 8-5; Cupid, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; Prospect Park, Flavien Prat, 7-2; Prime Attraction, Santiago Gonzalez, 10-1; Texas Ryano, Mike Smith, 15-1; and Follow Me Crev, Kent Desormeaux, 5-2.


Phil D’Amato has two for the money in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 San Juan Capistrano Stakes for three-year-olds and up at about 1 ¾ miles on turf, $2,000 supplemental entry Papacoolpapacool and Syntax.

“It’s a small field and I think Papacool might go out there and gallop around,” the trainer said, alluding to what appears to be a serious lack of pace on paper. “Syntax, on the other hand, has proven he wants that distance, so I think they’ll complement each other rather than hinder each other. Each has a chance to win.”

The San Juan, which goes as race four: Generoso, Tiago Pereira, 12-1; Power Foot, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 7-2; Runasaurus Rex, Brice Blanc, 30-1; Inordinate, Corey Nakatani, 2-1; Syntax, Rafael Bejarano, 8-5; and Papacoolpapacool, Flavien Prat, 3-1.


Phil D’Amato has a busy Saturday.

Santa Anita’s leading trainer by total victories, money won and stakes won at the 2015-16 Winter Meeting, D’Amato has horses entered in five of the 10 races, two each in the San Juan Capistrano Stakes and the Mizdirection Stakes.

The Mizdirection will be contested at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf and drew 10 entrants, including four-year-old fillies Coppa and Riri conditioned by D’Amato.

Riri, a daughter of 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Speightstown, has won three of her six career starts, all on turf. Coppa, a Florida-bred daughter of Yesbyjimminy, has not raced since last Oct. 1 when she finished seventh after prompting the pace in the Unzip Me Stakes over Santa Anita’s downhill course.

“She’s really coming into her own,” D’Amato said of Riri. “She gets better from start to start and I’ve been able to string along some races in a row. I think that’s helped her steadily develop. She should be coming from off the pace.

“Coppa is making her return back and she’s got blazing speed, so I expect her to pop out there and be winging and do her thing.

“She just got sour,” D’Amato added in explaining her absence from the races for 6 ½ months. “I won a graded stakes with her at Belmont (the Grade III Victory Ride last July 9), then shipped her back here, then back to Saratoga, and I think all that shipping kind of knocked her out a little bit.

“We freshened her up and here she is.”

The Mizdirection, which goes as the ninth race: Watch This Cat, Corey Nakatani, 9-2; Desert Steel, Flavien Prat, 5-1; Coppa, Joe Talamo, 10-1; Do the Dance, Stewart Elliott, 20-1; Riri, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1; Coniah, Kent Desormeaux, 15-1; Perfect Pic, Santiago Gonzalez, 8-1; Smoove It, Tiago Pereira, 6-1; Paquita Coqueta, Gary Stevens, 6-1; and Swift Lady, Martin Garcia, 4-1.


As the author of comedy classics “The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein,” Mel Brooks is arguably one of the funniest men alive.

But when the Los Angeles Times eliminated its agate type racing entries and results recently, the 90-year-old Brooks, an avid horseplayer and Santa Anita regular, found it no laughing matter.

Brooks wasn’t exactly wearing a cardboard belt but he was more than miffed when he opened his copy of the Los Angeles Times to check the entries and results only to find they no longer were there.

He let it be known to his 207,425 followers on Twitter, among them his good friend, 95-year-old Carl Reiner, creator of the all-time television classic “Dick Van Dyke Show.” Together, some 56 years ago, they created the “2000 Year Old Man’ comedy routine featuring the world’s oldest man.

Brooks’ tweet currently has 2,500 likes and 720 retweets.

Reiner also sounded off about the paper’s decision to his 166,284 Twitter followers, as follows: “Anything that makes my friend Mel upset makes me mad. Put the horse racing coverage back where it belongs.”

FINISH LINES: With Los Angeles Kings standout Anze Kopitar’s namesake, Kopitar, listed at 6-5 on the morning line in today’s sixth race, the Kings’ former two-time Stanley Cup champion coach, DarrylSutter and his wife, Wanda, are scheduled to re-visit The Great Race Place today as well . . . Phil D’Amato has Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Midnight Storm back at Santa Anita after his third-place finish in last Saturday’s Oaklawn Handicap. “He’s relaxing in his stall and we’re looking possibly at the Gold Cup (Grade I, $500,000 at Santa Anita May 27),” the trainer said . . . Masochistic, prepping for the Churchill Downs at seven furlongs May 6, worked seven furlongs Thursday in 1:26.80 for Ron Ellis. His fractional times were 24.80, 37.20, 49.20, 1:01.40 and 1:13.60, with a one mile gallop out of 1:41.40 . . . Bill Wussow, winner of the NHC Free Online Contest over 2,000 others, and Michelle Yu, VIP Manager of BetAmerica.com, will be Tom Quigley’s guest selectors Saturday and Sunday, respectively, 11:50 a.m. in the EastPaddockGardens . . . Every Saturday and Sunday at Santa Anita, fans can enjoy Family Fun Zone, featuring an Infield full of activities. A special $40 online only discount package includes food for four, two racing programs, two unlimited jumper wristbands, two pony ride vouchers, two face painting vouchers and eight carnival game vouchers. The package can be purchased online at santaanita.com/events.

Source: Santa Anita Park


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