Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale holds a heavy hand in Santa Anita’s $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT) on Sunday when he saddles co-high weights Obrigado and One Off in the 1 1/2-mile early season turf distance test.
Burt and Jane Bacharach's One Off, 11-1 upset winner of the San Marcos Handicap (gr. IIT) at 10 furlongs Jan. 21, and Gary Seidler and Peter Vegso's Obrigado, third in the San Marcos at odds of 5-2, will each carry 117 pounds among eight entrants. The field includes defending champion Atlando and San Marcos runner-up Notable Guest.
One Off’s victory in the San Marcos was the 7-year-old English-bred gelding’s first in the United States. It came after a troubled start altered his normal running style.
“He got squeezed back at the start,” commented Drysdale, “but it was a blessing in disguise. He was just traveling along at the back and came whoosh!”
Brice Blanc will be back aboard the bay who has earned $307,354 from a lifetime record of 9-5-0 in 27 starts.
French-bred Obrigado was beaten by 1½ lengths when third in the San Marcos and will be rejoined by leading jockey Garrett Gomez, who was aboard when the 4-year-old gelding ran second in last November’s Hollywood Derby (gr. IT). Obrigado has posted a career mark of 4-3-3 in 14 starts for earnings of $327,654.
Atlando, a 6-year-old French-bred gelding, has raced only twice since taking last year’s San Luis Obispo by three-quarters of a length over T. H. Approval. Although he closed at odds of 2-5, Atlando was considered the lesser of a three-horse entry from the barn of Darrell Vienna. Martin Pedroza has the return riding call on the Irish-bred who returned from an 11-month layoff to run fifth in the Thunder Road Handicap on Feb. 3 in a prep for his defense on Sunday. Owned by Gary A. Tanaka, Atlando has won six of 18 career starts while banking $346,366.
Favoritism may land on trainer Bobby Frankel’s Notable Guest. Making his U.S. debut in the San Marcos, the English import gained the lead in deep stretch before being overtaken by One Off in a race he probably needed. David Flores again will ride the Juddmonte Farms’ 6-year-old son of Kingmambo who raced against top competition in England. The Kentucky-bred shows an overall record of 4-5-2 in 16 races for earnings of $266,329.
$150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 7, 3:30 p.m.)
4 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. A. P. Xcellent (KY), 111, Victor Espinoza
2. One Off (GB), 117, Brice Blanc
3. Runaway Dancer (KY), 116, Alex O. Solis
4. On the Acorn (GB), 111, Julien R. Leparoux
5. Atlando (IRE), 116, Martin A. Pedroza
6. Bravo Maestro (KY), 112, Tyler Baze
7. Notable Guest (KY), 115, David R. Flores
8. Obrigado (FR), 117, Garrett K. Gomez