02/02/2017 3:30PM

Texas Ryano begins what could be big year in San Marcos

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Benoit & Associates
Texas Ryano is well-suited to the 1 1/4 miles of the San Marcos.

ARCADIA, Calif. – In the final months of 2016, Texas Ryano displayed the best form of his career, with a second in the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship, a sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and a win in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar.

Those performances have led to high hopes for 2017, beginning in Saturday’s $200,000 San Marcos Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita. Owner Warren Williamson and trainer Carla Gaines are planning a season of stakes appearances in turf marathons, with the goal of starting in the BC Turf at Del Mar on Nov. 4.

The Grade 2 San Marcos will be the first start for Texas Ryano since the win in the Hollywood Turf Cup.

“He’s doing fantastic, and that’s one thing he has going for him,” Gaines said. “A mile and a quarter to a mile and a half on turf are his best distances.”

The San Marcos is the final race on a strong nine-race program. The San Marcos drew a field of 14, including 11 stakes winners. The other three runners are stakes-placed.

San Marcos, Race 9

KEY CONTENDERS

Texas Ryano, by Curlin

Last 3 Beyers: 105-101-101

◗ Texas Ryano won the Hollywood Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles by stalking the pace to the stretch. He drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Ashleyluvssugar, a winner of two graded stakes in 2016.

“He had a good trip and got out of the gate well,” Gaines said. “It was a slower pace, and he was closer to the front.”

◗ Gaines wants Texas Ryano to have a similar trip under jockey Joe Talamo in a crowded field.

Flamboyant, by Peer Gynt

Last 3 Beyers: 98-95-97

◗ Flamboyant won the San Marcos in 2016 but is winless in his last five starts, including a third in the Hollywood Turf Cup. Last March, Flamboyant was fifth in the $6 million Dubai Turf in the United Arab Emirates.

◗ Trainer Paddy Gallagher said Flamboyant has maintained his fitness in recent weeks despite considerable rain in Southern California. Flamboyant was scratched from the San Gabriel Stakes on Jan. 7 after the race was moved from turf to dirt.

“It’s been a while since he ran, but everyone is in the same boat,” Gallagher said. “He popped out of the race good.”

Blue Tone, by Birdstone

Last 3 Beyers: 89-90-94

◗ Blue Tone, the winner of the Grade 3 San Gabriel on a sloppy track, has never started on turf in his 25-race career. Trainer Bob Hess Jr. said on Thursday that he plans to try the new surface Saturday with the 8-year-old gelding.

Itsinthepost, by American Post

Last 3 Beyers: 87-96-100

◗ The San Marcos will be the graded stakes debut on turf for Itsinthepost, a three-time winner trained by Jeff Mullins. Itsinthepost won an optional claimer at 1 1/8 miles on turf here in October and was second in a similar race at Del Mar in November. He was second to Blue Tone in the San Gabriel.

Some in Tieme, by Shirocco

North American debut

◗ Some in Tieme won two Group 1 turf races in Brazil in 2015 and 2016 and will have his American debut in the San Marcos. Trained by Paulo Lobo, Some in Tieme was second in the Group 1 Latinoamericano last March but was promoted to first when Don Inc was disqualified for a medication violation.