03/31/2016 2:27PM

Grand Tito becoming a marathon man

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Barbara D. Livingston
Grand Tito won the 1 3/8-mile Mac Diarmida in his last start. He stretches out another furlong in the Pan American.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – At this time last year, Grand Tito was a miler type. This year, at age 6, Grand Tito is trying to prove himself a marathon type.

Coming off a sharp victory in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida at 1 3/8 miles here March 5, Grand Tito will now attempt 1 1/2 miles for the first time in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Pan American Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Eleven were entered for the Pan American, including 2013 winner Twilight Eclipse, who is entered for the main track only because his connections think he failed to handle the course in his last start.

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Grand Tito has excelled over the Gulfstream turf, with a 5-3-2 record from 16 starts on it. He is 2 for 2 this year, including an allowance win before the Mac Diarmida. In both races, Grand Tito stalked the pace before drawing away in the stretch.

“My dad was pretty confident he could handle the distance, and he did it in good shape,” said Gustavo Delgado Jr., the son of and assistant to his father, Gustavo Delgado. “A mile and a half now I think will be better for him this time. The way he’s done the last two weeks, he’s in pretty good shape.”

Though Emisael Jaramillo was board for both of Grand Tito’s wins at this meet, three-time Eclipse Award winner Javier Castellano has the mount Saturday.

Heading the competition are Kaigun, second to Grand Tito last out; second-level allowance winners Seeking Alpha and Montclair; and Jay Gatsby.

The Grade 3, $200,000 Orchid, the female counterpart to the Pan American, is a pretty wide-open race. Photo Call, who was a Grade 1 winner last fall, Crisolles, and My Sweet Girl are contenders. The Orchid is run at 1 3/8 miles, a furlong shorter than the Pan American.

KEY CONTENDERS

PAN AMERICAN (RACE 13)

Grand Tito, by Candy Ride

Last 3 Beyers: 104-98-64

◗ Equaled his career-best Beyer Speed Figure in winning the Mac Diarmida at 9-1 last time. Galloped out past the wire like a horse who wouldn’t mind going farther.

◗ As was the case in the Mac Diarmida, it looks like he’ll be able to stalk the speedy O’Prado Ole.

◗ Gets a switch to the meet’s leading rider, Castellano, who breezed the horse last week.

Montclair, by Montjeu

Last 3 Beyers: 91-89-93

◗ Showed a nice turn of foot after having to wait for running room and then passed five horses in the final furlong to win a second-level allowance race over this course Feb. 3, his first start off a 181-day layoff.

◗ One of just two horses in the field with proven form at 1 1/2 miles.

Seeking Alpha, by Medaglia d’Oro

Last 3 Beyers: 93-90-87

◗ Brings a three-race winning streak into his stakes debut, including two wins over this course.

“He has improved a lot in his last three starts, and my gut tells me the longer, the better,” trainer Chad Brown said.

◗ Brown said he will talk with owner Robert LaPenta before deciding whether Seeking Alpha would run.

ORCHID (RACE 11)

Photo Call, by Galileo

Last 3 Beyers: 91-96-96

◗ Finished fourth, beaten 4 1/4 lengths by the champion Tepin, in the 1 1/16-mile Endeavour, her first start for trainer Todd Pletcher. Castellano has a return call in the Orchid.

“She ran well, she just didn’t quicken the last part, which suggests to me she might want to run just a little further,” Pletcher said. “She was a little fresh off the layoff and may not have wanted to be restrained. This time, I think we’ll let Javier drops his hands and see where she places herself.”

Crisolles, by Le Havre

Last 3 Beyers: 89-92-91

◗ Had put in decent efforts in her first three North American starts last year before finishing last in the Grade 3 Long Island last November. She has been freshened since that race and now makes her seasonal debut for trainer Christophe Clement.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: Over the last three years, Clement is 9 for 38 with a $1.88 ROI in graded stakes with horses returning from a layoff of 60 to 180 days.

My Sweet Girl, by Bernardini

Last 3 Beyers: 76-87-87

◗ Third as the favorite in a second-level allowance over this course going a mile March 13. Now stretches out to 1 3/8 miles and comes from a family that has had considerable stakes success going long distances on turf.

“I think she really wants as far as they can go,” trainer Barclay Tagg said. “Hopefully, it’ll work. Unfortunately, they still have to be faster than the others.”