Saturday, November 26, 2016


Williamson Racing's homebred Texas Ryano broke through the graded ranks Nov. 25 with an emphatic victory in the $200,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IIT) at Del Mar. Watch Video

The 5-year-old son of Curlin   closed wide outside under jockey Joe Talamo and finished with a powerful kick for a 3 1/4-length victory in the 1 1/2-mile turf test, his first win in 14 months.

"I knew he could do it if he had the best ride. He doesn't like horses on the outside of him. Joe gave him a perfect ride, and watching him win by the lengths that he won by, I'm elated," owner Elise Williamson told TVG's Britney Eurton. "I love this horse. Our (Great Commotion mare) Blending Element is the mare, and Curlin, well, it doesn't get any better."

Texas Ryano, the 2-1 second choice in a field of six, came off a sixth in the Nov. 5 Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) and found the winner's circle for the first time in eight starts, dating back to his Sept. 27 victory in the 2015 King Pellinore Stakes at Santa Anita Park. He was eighth in that year's edition of the Hollywood Turf Cup, his graded debut for trainer Carla Gaines.

"He broke well today," said Gaines. "It was a dawdling pace, but he was able to stay close. In the Breeders' Cup he was so far back, and often is so far back. He broke well today, found a good position, made his tremendous kick, and it worked brilliantly."

Royal Albert Hall showed the way through the Hollywood Turf Cup, setting fractions of :24.60, :49.86, and 1:14.85 before being overtaken by Texas Ryano. Ashleyluvssugar, favored at 4-5, tried to make a run from second, but the eventual winner drew off under steady urging to win in a final time of 2:27.92.

Ashleyluvssugar, piloted by Gary Stevens and conceding four pounds to the winner, 124-120, held on well after being passed and was 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Flamboyant, who completed the trifecta by a nose.

Texas Ryano paid $6.60, $3.20, and $2.10, while the victory pushed the Kentucky-bred's earnings to $438,355 with a 5-3-3 record from 18 starts. Ashleyluvssugar returned $2.40 and $2.10, and Flamboyant (FR) brought $2.60. Power Foot, Quick Casablanca, and the pacesetter completed the order of finish. Ralis was scratched.

Blending Element has been a foundation mare for the Williamson program, producing all winners from her nine foals to race. Of those, three won stakes, two are graded stakes winners—Texas Ryano and 2008 Las Flores Handicap (gr. III) winner Tiz Elemental—and two are grade II stakes-placed. Blending Element's last reported foal is a 2015 Tiznow   filly.

Warren Williamson’s Texas Ryano, who trailed Ashleyluvssugar in three straight stakes races this year, gained a measure of revenge on his rival Friday with a decisive victory in the featured Grade II $200,000 Hollywood Turf Cup.

Sent to the gate as a solid 2-1 second choice in a field of six grass marathoners, Texas Ryano and jockey Joe Talamo overhauled 4-5 favored Ashleyluvssugar at the head of the stretch and went on to score by three and one-quarter lengths in 2:27.92 for the mile and one-half over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

Ashleyluvssugar, piloted by Gary Stevens and conceding four pounds to the winner, 124-120, held on well after being passed and was a length and one-quarter ahead of Flamboyant, who nosed out Power Foot for third money. Completing the field were Quick Casablanca and Royal Albert Hall. Withdrawn Friday morning was Ralis.

Texas Ryano, a five-year-old son of Curlin trained by Carla Gaines, was seventh in the Eddie Read last summer as Ashleyluvssugar checked in second. He was third beaten a length in the Del Mar Handicap won by Ashleyluvssugar and a half-length behind his rival when he won the John Henry Turf Classic at Santa Anita in early October.

Texas Ryano, scoring his fifth win in 18 starts, returned $6.60, $3.20 and $2.10 while earning $120,000 to boost his bankroll to $438,355. Ashleyluvssugar paid $2.40 and $2.10, while Flamboyant returned $2.60 to show.

JOE TALAMO (Texas Ryano, winner) -- “I was sitting there loaded and I was smiling. Couldn’t have had a better trip. The only thing that concerned me was the fact that we were going slow and I didn’t want the favorite (Ashleyluvssugar, who was second for most of the trip) to slip away in the lane. So I was up closer and it worked out just right. He ran big.”

GARY STEVENS (Ashleyluvssugar, second) – “Long campaign; it finally caught up with him. He ran well today, but Joe’s horse (Texas Ryano) ran great. My horse is gallant; he always tries. He’s dead honest. They told me that his share (second-place in the race is worth $40,000) makes him a millionaire ($1,007,504). That’s not bad.”

MIKE SMITH (Flayboyant, third) – “He was just going through the motions out there. I’d like to tell you he gave me 100% today, but I can’t. I’m not even sure he gave me 80 (%).”

CARLA GAINES  (Texas Ryano, winner) – “We kinda, sorta, unintentionally used the ($4 million Breeders Cup Turf) as a prep for this. We were eligible, he’s our homebred and we don’t get an opportunity like that very often, so we went for it knowing it was a tough spot. He got left at the gate and was so far back in that race he didn’t have a chance, so this was kind of redemptive in a sense. The race didn’t go exactly as I thought, I thought Ashleyluvssugar would be by himself on the lead. But it worked out for us.”

FRACTIONS:  :24.60  :49.86  1:14.85  1:39.81  2:04.05  2:27.92

The stakes win was the first in the Hollywood Turf Cup for rider Talamo and the first of the Fall meet for him. He now has 44 stakes wins at Del Mar.

The stakes win was the first in the Hollywood Turf Cup for trainer Gaines and her first of the Fall meet. She now has 17 stakes wins at Del Mar.

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