Four runners from the Feb. 16 Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. IIT), headed by Resolute Group Stables' second-place finisher Teaks North, are among 10 entered to contest the $150,000 Pan American Stakes (gr. IIT) March 23 at Gulfstream Park.
Third-place Mac Diarmida runner Ioya Bigtime, fourth-place finisher Twilight Eclipse, and Belo Acteon, fifth in that 1 3/8-mile turf event, will all line up for the 1 1/2-mile Pan American, which is scheduled over the Gulfstream lawn with an approximate post time of 5:45 p.m. EDT.
Twilight Eclipse carries top weight of 123 for West Point Thoroughbreds and trainer Tom Albertrani; the 4-year-old son of Purim won the W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder Casino & Race Course Nov. 24 and was making his first start since then in the Mac Diarmida.
"It wasn't a bad race," said Albertrani of the Mac Diarmida. "He's done well and improved since then. They called the ground 'good' that day, but I think it was softer than that, which he doesn't care for. We'll hope for a firm course on Saturday."
Team Block's Ioya Bigtime shares a 121-pound impost with James Karp's Newsdad, a 5-year-old son of Arch who took the Pan American in 2012. He is unraced since winning the Oct. 27 Fayette Stakes (gr. II) on Polytrack at Keeneland for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott but ran four times over the Gulfstream course last year, winning an allowance race and just missing when second by a neck in the 2012 edition of the Mac Diarmida. Newsdad finished fourth twice and fifth twice in four graded stakes going long in Kentucky and New York between the Pan American and the Fayette last year.
Ioya Bigtime, a 6-year-old son of Dynaformer trained by Chris Block, pressed the pace in this year's Mac Diarmida and held well for the show. He preceeded that effort with a fourth in the W.L. McKnight.
"We had him in a good rhythm with a race every four to five weeks last year," said Block. "He had a lot more time between the McKnight and the Mac Diarmida (seven weeks), and I didn't have him really tight for that race.
"As the race developed he pretty much had to go from the three-eighths pole when several others did just to keep his position. He's tactical, but he's a little better if he can wait to the quarter pole to make his run. Also, Jeffrey (Sanchez) said after the race that the footing from the three-eighths around the turn was a little chopped up and wasn't sure he was getting a good hold of it. I think he's coming up to this race just right."
Teaks North and all other runners in the Pan American will carry 117 pounds. The 6-year-old Northern Afleet gelding was away alertly to set the pace last time out when saddled by trainer Michele Nevin, but was collared by winner Amira's Prince inside the furlong marker.
Also of interest is Signal Hill Farm's Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIT) upsetter Mucho Mas Mucho, who came flying from the back of the pack with a late five-wide bid in that 1 1/16-mile turf test on Jan. 12 to win by a neck at odds of 41-1. The 4-year-old son of Macho Uno was making his first start for trainer Henry Collazo since a runner-up finish by 1 3/4 lengths to Twilight Eclipse when he closed willingly for second in the 1 1/2-mile W.L. McKnight.
Lisa Parbhoo's Ducduc, a 7-year-old son of Langfuhr who returns to turf for the first time since last March, will be making start number 41 for trainer Shivananda Parbhoo off an eighth in his most recent run, the Feb. 9 Donn Handicap (gr. I).