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Newsdad defends title in Pan American

Newsdad hopes to join Fraise (1993-94) and Quest Star (2003-04) as a two-time winner of the Pan American (Adam Coglianese Photography)

Newsdad will attempt to become just the third repeat winner of the Grade 2, $150,000 Pan American when the 1 1/2-mile grass fixture is renewed at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Nine rivals stand in the way of the five-year-old Arch horse, who will break from post 10.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who saddled Fraise (1993-94) to consecutive wins in the Pan American, Newsdad enters his title defense in different fashion from last year. Active all winter prior to his two-length win last season, Newsdad enters this year's edition having not run since an impressive last-to-first victory in the Grade 2 Fayette over the Keeneland Polytrack in October.

A serious racehorse on synthetic surfaces, Newsdad has been less consistent on turf. However, virtually all his success on grass has come over the Gulfstream infield, where he's compiled a 6-3-1-2 mark. Jose Lezcano, who suffered a sprained ankle in a March 9 spill, is scheduled to return to riding Saturday and will be aboard Newsdad.

Teaks North, whose past victories include the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and Grade 1 United Nations, has shown good form in two starts this winter. A wire-to-wire winner of the Florida Sunshine Millions Turf in January, the Northern Afleet gelding held second after leading a good deal of the way through the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida over 1 3/8 miles last time. He might face more pace pressure this time from multiple Grade 3 winner Ioya Bigtime, who retreated to third in the Mac Diarmida after stalking Teaks North for more than a mile.

Also exiting the Mac Diarmida is fourth-place finisher Twilight Eclipse, who previously landed the Grade 2 W.L. McKnight Handicap at Calder as an 11-1 chance. That 12-furlong victory on November 24 came at the expense of Mucho Mas Macho, who rebounded to post a much bigger upset, at 41-1, in the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale on January 12 with a strong late burst in the final furlong.

Returning to the grass for the first time in a year is Ducduc, who has been unplaced twice on the main track since dead-hating with Csaba in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Handicap in November. Brazilian Group 1 veteran Belo Acteon, multiple stakes winners Empire Builder, and the seemingly overmatched pair of Total Reward and Gossip Column complete the field.

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