11/25/2016 8:49PM

Texas Ryano delivers in Hollywood Turf Cup

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Benoit and Associates
Texas Ryano powers to an impressive 3 1/4-length victory in the Hollywood Turf Cup Friday at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Trainer Carla Gaines took Texas Ryano out to the track at Del Mar early Friday morning for a pre-race jog, and when the 5-year-old horse was put back in his stall, “he started bucking and playing, like 2-year-old,” Gaines said.

Gaines said Texas Ryano “had been touting himself” all week, and the positive signs he gave off early in the morning – that he was eager for more – were revealed for all to see Friday afternoon, when Texas Ryano finally got the best of his nemesis Ashleyluvssugar and got his first graded stakes win in the Grade 2, $200,345 Hollywood Turf Cup.

Texas Ryano ($6.60) roared past Ashleyluvssugar, the 4-5 favorite, in upper stretch and drew clear for an emphatic 3 1/4-length victory in the 1 1/2-mile grass race for older horses. Ashleyluvssugar was second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Flamboyant, who nosed out Power Foot and Quick Casablanca in a three-way photo for third. Royal Albert Hall faded to last in the six-horse field after setting the pace.

Texas Ryano covered 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:27.92.

“It’s very, very satisfying,” said Gaines, who trains Texas Ryano for long-time client Warren Williamson. “He’s a homebred. We bought the mare many, many years ago in Ireland.”

Texas Ryano, 5, is by Curlin and out of Blending Element, who has produced Tiz Elemental and Tiz a Blend for Williamson and Gaines. This was his fifth win in 18 starts, and the $120,000 winner’s share brought his career earnings to $438,355. He was winless in six races this year, but was third and second behind Ashleyluvssugar in, respectively, the Del Mar Handicap and the John Henry Turf Championship.

Last time out, both ran in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, with Ashleyluvssugar fifth and Texas Ryano finishing in a dead-heat for sixth. Texas Ryano was off poorly that day, and Gaines credited starter Jay Slender with working with Texas Ryano since that race.

“He’s not a great gate horse,” Gaines said. “He got out well today.”

After that, it was up to jockey Joe Talamo, who, after starting from post 3, didn’t have to worry about getting fanned wide, as had compromised Texas Ryano in his three prior starts from outside draws.

“He just has to wind up and get into that run,” Gaines said. “Joe gave him a perfect trip, a perfect ride.”