DEL MAR MILE H. | PURSE: $200,000 | THREE YEAR OLDS AND UP | GRADE 2 | ONE-MILE (TURF)
Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino's Obviously made no secret stratagems for Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Del Mar Mile Handicap. A front-running conqueror of an optional claimer in his first try at a mile on August 2, the Mike Mitchell charge was obviously going to tear off once again, and the wagering public sent him off as the even-money favorite in expectation of another wire job. Obviously just succeeded, barely hanging on by a desperate nose from the flying Mr. Commons, in a course-record time of 1:32.10.
Obviously had flirted with a course record when romping by five lengths last time out, speeding the mile in 1:32 2/5. This time, however, the four-year-old gelding had to run a stronger field off its collective feet.
The race went largely according to plan. Obviously had no difficulty in grabbing the lead, clearing the field from the outside post, and angling over to the fence through an opening quarter in :22 3/5 on the firm turf. Down the backstretch, the exuberant front runner reeled off a half-mile in :45 2/5, pulling under jockey Joe Talamo while opening up by five lengths. Meanwhile, the newly-blinkered Mr. Commons was unhurried at the tail of the field, as many as 8 1/2 lengths behind the leader.
Obviously continued his imperious sway through six furlongs in 1:08 4/5, and motored into the stretch with a full head of steam. Mr. Commons was beginning to unwind, but seemed to have a tall order to catch the pacesetter.
Passing the eighth-pole, the complexion of the race changed. Obviously was shortening stride a bit after sizzling seven furlongs in 1:20 1/5, and Mr. Commons was in full flight. The closer was gaining ground hand over fist, and the question was whether the wire would come in time to save the front runner.
Obviously dug in gamely, reached for the wire, and earned a landmark first stakes victory. His final time shaved .11 off the former record of 1:32.21 established by Three Valleys in this race in 2005.
"He was more keen with me today than the other day," Talamo said, comparing his two efforts at a mile. "But that was good. I needed every inch to get it done. He just ran outstanding. He's a really good horse. At the sixteenth-pole I could hear that other horse (Mr. Commons) coming. Good thing I still had a little bit left in the tank."
"No instructions to Joe, he knows the horse," Mitchell said. "He felt he needed to open up like he did and, so be it, he's a good horseman. From the eighth-pole home I saw that other horse coming at me and said 'ugh,' but it was a good horse race."
Obviously was all alone for much of the way (Benoit Photos)
Mitchell, who underwent surgery for a brain tumor earlier this summer, was asked how he is feeling.
"Feeling fine -- this will help," the trainer responded.
Brice Blanc, the rider of Mr. Commons, felt the near-miss.
"Tough one -- he really leveled and ran the last part very well," Blanc said. "We've been working on that in the mornings, working to get him to finish better. He did today. I could tell I was beaten. I was hoping we'd get there, but not quite."
The top two were well clear of the rest. Another 4 3/4 lengths astern in third came Jeranimo, followed by Norvsky, Calimonco and Tale of a Champion.
Obviously, who returned $4.20, $3.40 and $2.40, sports a mark of 10-5-3-1, $270,347. The bay was originally based with Peter Fahey in Ireland, where he raced three times, all at seven furlongs. Sixth after rearing up at the start of his career debut at Gowran last summer, he won his next pair, a maiden at Cork and a handicap over the Polytrack at Dundalk.
The smart prospect then sold for $217,635 at the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale and arrived in Southern California. After just missing in his American debut in a downhill sprint at Santa Anita March 22, he scored narrowly over the same about 6 1/2-furlong course on April 15.
Obviously placed in his ensuing three sprint attempts at Hollywood Park, most notably in the May 5 Cool Frenchy over the Cushion Track and in the July 1 Robert K. Kerlan Memorial on turf. Mitchell subsequently stretched him out, and Obviously is now two-for-two going a route.
"I thought he'd like the race down the hill," Mitchell said. "But now (that he's won twice at a mile on turf) what do we do with him? We won't do anything, though, until October."
The son of sprint supremo Choisir gets some stamina from his dam, Leala, an unraced daughter of Montjeu. His second dam, the unraced Silver Hawk mare Silver Bubble, is a full sister to multiple Grade 1 star Hawkster, who set a new world record of 2:22 4/5 for 1 1/2 miles on turf; U.A.E. highweight older stayer Lightning Arrow; Group 1-placed French stakes victor Silver Kite; and French Group 3 queen Silver Lane, whose progeny include Japanese Grade 1 scorers Black Hawk and Pink Cameo.
Bred by Deidre Cogan in Ireland, Obviously was a bargain $2,578 yearling purchase at Goffs February.