Fanticola and Scardino's Obviously turned in another terrific front-running
effort in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000
Seco Mile at Santa Anita. Aside from remaining perfect from three starts at
the distance, the Mike Mitchell charge burnished his credentials for the
Breeders' Cup Mile over this same course.
The 6-5 favorite, who set a course record when hanging on in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile last time out, flirted with another mark here. Under regular rider Joe Talamo, he zipped in 1:31.95 on the firm turf, just .06 off the record established by Atticus in 1997.
Obviously had a more comfortable time down the stretch on Saturday. Unlike at Del Mar, where he was all out to stave off Mr. Commons by a desperate nose, he kicked away from that rival and safely held Japanese shipper Trailblazer by a half-length. Trailblazer, who had never raced over so short a trip in his life, was prepping for the Breeders' Cup Turf, and his connections must have been delighted.
Obviously rattled off fractions of :23 and :45 4/5, tracked by Midnight Interlude and a surprisingly close Mr. Commons. Trailblazer bided his time in fourth, while Kettle Corn trailed in the short field.
Rounding the far turn, Obviously spurted clear and reached the six-furlong mark in 1:08 4/5. Mr. Commons gave chase in hopes of duplicating his Del Mar run, but he never got that close this time.
Obviously continued to find more, and although Trailblazer finished strongly late, the pacesetter had enough of a cushion at the wire. The favorite returned $4.40, $3 and $2.10 to his supporters.
Mr. Commons crossed the wire another half-length back third, followed by Kettle Corn and Midnight Interlude.
"This is actually the best (Obviously) has relaxed," Talamo said. "He's definitely got the highest cruising speed of any horse I've ever been on. I still can't get over that he went the half in :45 and change. That cruising speed of his is unbelievable.
"Pulling up, I had to get the outrider to grab me; he's just full of run. I'm excited for the Breeders' Cup with him. I was very confident with my horse today. Mike's (Mitchell) done a great job keeping him fresh after his races. Going a mile, he's just unbelievable.
"I feel like I'm family when it comes to Mike (Mitchell)," the rider added. "He's been instrumental to my career and taking me to the next level. He's always put me on great horses like this and I really appreciate that."
"They went quick," Mitchell said, "but the first couple of fractions, they slowed it down a little bit. I didn't think he needed to be like 10 or 15 (lengths) in front to win. I loved how he saved him down the backside a little bit. It was a good horse race.
"He needed to perform like this today to consider the Breeders' Cup (Mile) with him, but now, why not?"
Trailblazer was ridden by Japanese star Yutaka Take, who was looking ahead to
the Breeders' Cup Turf.
"The race went OK," Take said. "The distance was too short, but it was a good race to set up for the next one."
Mr. Commons is likely to advance to a rematch with Obviously in the Mile.
"They went fast, but he just couldn't catch them," trainer John Shirreffs said. "If he's OK, we'll look at the Breeders' Cup (Mile)."
"I was in a perfect spot," jockey Brice Blanc said of Mr. Commons. "My horse kicked on, but I just couldn't get by the winner. Not to take anything away from the winner, but he has everything his way when he gets loose on the lead like that and nobody pressures him.
"I can't really change the style of my horse. I was actually a little closer than I was expecting because nobody was going with the leader. He finished up good and gave me a good kick at the top of the lane, but I just came up a little bit short."
Obviously's resume now reads 11-6-3-1, $360,347. 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 to a mile for an August 2 optional claimer at Del Mar. Obviously relished the opportunity to romp by five lengths, punching his ticket to the Del Mar Mile.
"Actually, we thought he was a sprinter when we bought him," Mitchell said. "I thought we were going to run him 6 1/2 (furlongs) down the hill (on turf) in the Breeders' Cup. But we just routed him and never told Joe anything. From the day we routed him, we just let Joe do whatever he wanted to do on him, and I think we figured out he just liked this type of race."
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.