One Off Turns It On to Take San Marcos

One Off Turns It On to Take San Marcos
Photo: Benoit
Jockey Brice Blanc and One Off came from off the pace to win the San Marcos Handicap.
Jane and Burt Bacharach's 7-year-old gelding One Off, last in the field in upper stretch, charged down the middle of the track under Brice Blanc to register his first graded stakes win in impressive style Sunday in the $150,000 San Marcos Handicap (g. IIT) on the Santa Anita lawn.

The British-bred One Off, trained by Neil Drysdale, defeated Notable Guest by three-quarters of a length for his ninth career win in 27 starts. The final time for the 1 1/4-mile event was 2:01 2/5.

One Off, sent off at 11-1, was pinched back shortly after the start and fell in at the rear of the eight-horse field as Hello Sunday, pressed by 6-5 favorite Boboman, led the field through easy fractions of :24, :4 and 1:13 2/5. As they came off the far turn following a one-mile clip of 1:37 2/5, the leaders were overcome on the outside. Notable Guest, ridden by David Flores, emerged with the lead mid-stretch while getting a serious challenge from Obrigado, also trained by Drysdale. One Off had a ground-saving trip before swinging out on the final turn, but still trailed in upper stretch. Closing on the extreme outside, Blanc had One Off in full gear under steady left-handed urging going for the wire and they won it in the final strides. Notable Guest edged Obrigado, who was ridden by Corey Nakatani, for second by three parts of a length.

It was the second win of the meeting for the Frenchman Blanc, who returned to his former Southern California riding base this season after a long period at various eastern tracks and celebrated his 34th birthday on Tuesday.

Blanc said he did not anticipate a rapid pace, but his plans to be an early factor went awry. “It didn’t look like there was any pace on paper, so Neil told me I wouldn’t have to take the horse back,” said Blanc. “The plan was to be on the lead or sit second or third early. But two jumps out of the gate, I got squeezed, and my horse threw his head a little bit. So I was a little further back early than I wanted.”

“It was a blessing in disguise (the poor break) because the horse loved it, didn’t he?” said Drysdale after winning his third San Marcos. “He was just traveling along at the back and came whoosh!”

One Off, a bay son of Barathea--On Call (Alleged), has been competitive in graded stakes since he transferred to the U.S. from England for the 2005 campaign, but was unable to break through before Sunday. His best showing was a second-place finish, one length behind T.H. Approval, in the last year's San Juan Capistrano. One Off returned from a three-month layoff with a second-place finish, 1 1/4 lengths behind Boboman, in a 1 1/4-mile optional allowance/claiming race on the Hollywood Park turf Nov. 2. He signaled his readiness six weeks later under the same conditions when he tallied a 3 1/4-length win. One Off began his career in the United Kingdom, where he won six of 14 in England and was blanked in his lone start in Ireland, winning a totla of $46,220.

Earning $90,000 Sunday, One Off increased his lifetime winnings to $307,354. He now has three wins and two seconds in five starts at 10 furlongs.

With Boboman running out of the money, One Off paid $24.80, $9.80 and $11.60. Juddmonte Farms' Notable Guest, making his first U.S. start for trainer Bobby Frankel, returned $6.60 and $11. Obrigado, who ended his 3-year-old campaign with consecutive runner-up finishes in the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT), Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) and Hollywood Derby (gr. IT), was $6.20 to show in his 2007 debut. 

Another Frankel entrant, the two-time Brazilian grade I winner Heroi Do Bafra, finished fourth, followed by Clipperdown, Don Incauto, Hello Sunday and Boboman, who was coming off a big win in the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT) and was seeking his fourth consecutive victory.

“No excuses,” commented Richard Mandella, who trains Boboman. “It just wasn’t his day.”

One Off’s stunner combined with several others on the day’s program to generate a huge two-day carryover of $723,774 into Wednesday’s races at Santa Anita.

(Chart, Equibase)

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