Obrigado, who won the San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT) in 2007, will try to capture the marathon turf race for a second time against eight rivals in the Santa Anita feature on Feb. 21.
A 7-year-old gelded son of Enrique, the French-bred Obrigado won the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Obispo by a half-length in 2007, but finished eighth a year ago. From the barn of Neil Drysdale, he won the 1 3/4-mile Round Table Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park last year for his second graded stakes win.
Owned by Gary Seidler and Peter Vegso, Obrigado has produced a 7-5-8 record from 35 starts and earnings of more than $700,000. His last win came two starts back in an optional claimer at Santa Anita at 12 furlongs in October. This will be his season debut. Joel Rosario has the mount.
The other starter for Drysdale is David and Jill Heerensperger’s Bourbon Bay, an optional claiming winner at the same distance Jan. 6 at Santa Anita. The win was the first for the 4-year-old Sligo Bay gelding since he broke his maiden in August, 2008. Rafael Bejarano will ride.
Sudden War, trained and co-owned by Ken McPeek, could be primed for a big effort after missing by only a head when running third in an optional claimer Dec. 31 at Santa Anita in his first start off an extended layoff. The 5-year-old Sunray Spirit gelding won the first three races of his career last year before tiring to finish 10th in his stakes debut—the Elkhorn (gr. IIT) at Keeneland last April. He was sidelined for more than eight months after that race. Alex Solis will ride the Argentine bred.
Also a major contender is Mercedes Stables’ Dynamic Range, who finished fourth in the grade II San Marcos last month in his seasonal and stakes debut. Prior to that, the 4-year-old Dynaformer gelding won consecutive optional claimers, one of them at 12 furlongs. Victor Espinoza rides for Julio Canani, who won the last two runnings of the Luis Obispo with Spring House.
The top earner in the field is Unusual Suspect, a 6-year-old trained and co-owned by Barry Abrams. Unusual Suspect has won eight of 42 lifetime starts for earnings of $739,850. His biggest win came in the grade III Hollywood Turf Express Handicap in 2007.
According to Abrams, Unusual Suspect is the only horse to have won at every major track in California—Bay Meadows, Del Mar, Golden Gate Fields, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita. He also has won at distances from six furlongs to 12 furlongs, beating Pacific Classic (gr. I) winner Richard’s Kid in the 1 1/2-mile Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar last August.
“The San Luis Obispo is a tough race, but I just need somewhere to run Unusual Suspect,” Abrams said. “Hopefully, this will get him fit for the next race (Crystal Water Handicap on Feb. 28).”
$150,000 San Luis Obispo (gr. IIT, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 4YO and Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Dynamic Range (KY), V Espinoza, 117, J C Canani
2. Sir Dave (FL), D R Flores, 114, J Carava
3. Bourbon Bay (KY), R Bejarano, 114, N D Drysdale
4. Romp (ARG), C Sutherland, 112, K Mulhall
5. Unusual Suspect (CA), A Quinonez, 115, B Abrams
6. Obrigado (FR), J Rosario, 116, N D Drysdale
7. Troubletimesthree (CA), M Garcia, 111, L Powell
8. Sudden War (ARG), A O Solis, 114, K G McPeek
9. Porfido (CHI), J Talamo, 116, H Ascanio