Second in his four most recent starts, Kaigun would not be denied April 2 as he closed with a sustained rally through the Gulfstream Park stretch and won the $200,000 Pan American Stakes (gr. IIT) by a head.
A 6-year-old millionaire by Taylor Made Stallions resident Northern Afleet , Kaigun got an ideal ride from regular pilot Joe Bravo, who settled him off the well off the pace in the early stages of the 1 1/2-mile race. Kaigun finished fastest of all down the lane to best Wake Forest, trying to win from last, for a third graded win. Time for the distance was 2:29.20 on good turf.
Trained by Mark Casse for Gary Barber, Quintessential Racing Florida, and Horse'n Around Racing Stable, Kaigun has finished in the top three in 17 of 28 lifetime starts, winning six races, including the 2014 Seabiscuit Handicap (gr. IIT) and Play the King Stakes (Can-IIT). He opened 2016 with a runner-up finish in the John Connally (gr. IIIT) at Sam Houston Jan. 30 after closing 2015 with a neck loss to Charming Kitten in the W. L. McKnight (gr. IIIT) Dec. 26 at Gulfstream.
With Kaigun relaxing near the back of the field, Seeking Alpha set the early fractions before Grand Tito rushed up to draw even around the turn to take command and open up by 1 1/2 lengths. The 8-5 favorite gave way when Wake Forest moved to lead in the final sixteenth, but Kaigun had more power in the final strides.
"Ain't it great to get out of second position?" Bravo said after the race. "He makes my job easy. He's a pretty cool horse. It's a shame that he's run second the last few times but each start you learn a little bit more. All those races they were learning experiences for today's win. They had him ready to run. The last 70 yards, Johnny (Velazquez aboard Wake Forest) came running and I was like, 'No!' "
Kaigun returned $7.60, $3.60, and $2.40, German group III winner Wake Forest paid $4 and $2.80, and Grand Tito returned $2.40 in finishing 1 1/2 lengths back in third in the field of nine.
Kaigun was bred in Ontario by William Sorokolit Racing Stable. His dam is the winning Kris S. mare Cruising Kris, who also is the dam of stakes winner Cruising Executive and stakes producer Stormy Kristine, herself the dam of stakes winner and Laurel Park turf course record setter Bold Thunder.