04/02/2016 7:37PM

Kaigun snaps long losing streak in Pan American

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Barbara D. Livingston
Kaigun (left), with Joe Bravo aboard, outfinishes Wake Forest by a head in the Grade 2 Pan American.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Kaigun found the cure to a severe bout of seconditis, outfinishing Wake Forest in deep stretch to win Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Pan American Stakes by a head at Gulfstream Park.

The win ended a nine-race losing streak for Kaigun, who had finished second in four straight graded stakes, including the Mac Diarmida to Grand Tito on March 5. Grand Tito finished third as the favorite in the Pan American.

Under Joe Bravo, Kaigun lingered in the back of the pack while saving ground while Seeking Alpha set fractions of 23.83 seconds for the quarter-mile, 48.79 for a half-mile, and 1:14.28 for six furlongs.

Kaigun gradually advanced as did Wake Forest, who, under John Velazquez, was behind Kaigun. Coming to the top of the stretch, Kaigun split horses and Wake Forest followed him.

In upper stretch, Joe Bravo tipped Kaigun four wide while Velazquez continued to advance Wake Forest up the fence. The two were basically on equal terms in deep stretch with Kaigun getting his head on the wire first.

Kaigun, a gelding by Northern Afleet owned by a partnership led by Gary Barber, covered the 1 1/2 miles over a “good” turf course in 2:20.20 and returned $7.60 as the 5-2 second choice.

“I think today he really did dig in,” said Norm Casse, son of and assistant to trainer Mark Casse. “He wanted it today.”

Casse credited Bravo, who was aboard for Kaigun’s last three second-place finishes.

“He figured the horse out,” Casse said. “This is a horse that for whatever reason doesn’t seem to get the job done but always runs well. Maybe Joe’s figured him out a little bit. He had him right where he needed to be.”

Velazquez felt Wake Forest had a perfect trip and just got a little tired the last part of the race.

Velazquez said trainer Chad Brown “told me be careful with him. Going a mile and a quarter you can ride him a little more aggressively. At a mile and a half be cautious; even though I got through at the quarter pole and I thought I was going to win it, the last 20 yards he was a little tired.”

Wake Forest finished second by a half-length over Grand Tito, the 9-5 favorite.