01/29/2017 8:35PM

Texas Ryano fit for season's debut in San Marcos

Benoit and Associates
Texas Ryano will make his first start since late November in Saturday's San Marcos.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Texas Ryano did not race through a wet January in Southern California, but still made two afternoon appearances at Santa Anita.

Most of his daily activity was during morning training hours, but there were two occasions when Texas Ryano had workouts between races because of wet conditions those mornings.

The adjusted schedule allowed trainer Carla Gaines to keep Texas Ryano on course for his 2017 debut in Saturday’s $200,000 San Marcos Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita. Gaines said Texas Ryano retained fitness despite the alterations.

“We’re close enough,” Gaines said of Texas Ryano’s recent schedule.

Sunday morning, Texas Ryano worked five furlongs in 1:00.40, his final major exercise before the Grade 2 San Marcos. Owned by Warren Williamson, Texas Ryano has not raced since winning the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles at Del Mar on Nov. 25, his second stakes win and first in a graded stakes.

The win in the Hollywood Turf Cup vaulted Texas Ryano into the leading group of turf distance runners in Southern California, a division without the same depth as in past years.  A win in the San Marcos would further boost Texas Ryano’s status in the group. He was sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita last November.

Texas Ryano was second to Ashleyluvssugar in the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship here in late October, his first start on the Santa Anita turf course since the surface was replaced last summer. Gaines said the change has been a boost for Texas Ryano, a closer.

“When we had the last turf course, it was not to his liking,” Gaines said. “It was hard for him to make up ground.”

The San Marcos is one of four stakes on Saturday’s program. The list of candidates include A Red Tie Day, Conquest Daddyo, Flamboyant, Frank Conversation, and Twentytwentyvision. Flamboyant won the 2016 San Marcos, but is winless in five subsequent starts.

The day’s richest race is the $300,000 San Antonio Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, a prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 11.

Accelerate and Dalmore, second and third behind Midnight Storm in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes on Jan. 1, and Hoppertunity, the winner of the 2016 San Antonio, are candidates along with Avanti Bello, Hoffenheim, Mor Spirit, and possibly Prospect Park.

The $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at six furlongs will not have a strong field. There were only 10 nominations, although some runners could be added at entry time on Wednesday for a $4,000 supplemental fee.

St. Joe Bay, who finished in a dead heat for first with stablemate Solid Wager in the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes on Dec. 31, will start in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes, trainer Peter Miller said on Sunday.

Saturday’s top race for 3-year-olds is the $150,000 Robert Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Royal Mo, a maiden race winner at Del Mar on Nov. 27, may start, according to trainer John Shirreffs.

Dangerfield, Sheer Flattery, and Term of Art are other possible starters. Dangerfield was a well-beaten third in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity on Dec. 12.  Sheer Flattery, a maiden race winner on Dec. 31, worked seven furlongs in 1:25.20 on Sunday.

Champagne Room, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2016, and Unique Bella, an easy winner of the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 8, lead Sunday’s $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a mile.

Champagne Room has not raced since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies here on Nov. 5. Trained by Peter Eurton, she breezed five furlongs in 1:00 on Sunday.