Obviously, a nose better than Mr. Commons in the Del Mar Mile Handicap (gr. IIT) while setting a course record, is the likely favorite once again in the Arroyo Seco Mile (gr. IIT) as he goes for his third straight win on the turf Oct. 6 at Santa Anita Park.
The Irish-bred Obviously and Mr. Commons are part of a five-horse field that also includes Japanese multiple graded stakes winner Trailblazer in his U.S. debut. The $150,000 event was formerly the Oak Tree Mile and is now named for the canyon that leads into the Pasadena area and is home to the Rose Bowl. The Arroyo Seco is the third race on the program with a 2:02 p.m. PDT scheduled post.
Though not part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series, the race serves as a major local prep for the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita.
Trained by Mike Mitchell and owned by Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino, Obviously opened up a five-length early lead in the Del Mar Mile Aug. 26 and and prevailed gamely over the hard-closing Mr. Commons. His time was 1:32.10.
The 4-year-old gelding by Choisir employed a similar style in winning a classified allowance at one mile by five lengths on the Del Mar turf Aug. 2. Obviously made his U.S. debut for Mitchell on March 22 after winning two of three starts in his native Ireland. The bay has an overall record of 5-3-1 in 10 races has not been worse than third in seven Southern California starts while winning three.
Obviously, who breaks from post 3 with Joe Talamo aboard, was assigned 124 pounds for the Arroyo Seco, three more than Mr. Commons and Trailblazer.
Mr. Commons, a 4-year-old mile turf specialist by Artie Schiller , may have run his best race of the year in the Del Mar Mile. Since winning the Arcadia Stakes (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita in February, Mr. Commons has lost four in a row while finishing second in three of those losses. He seemed to recover his effective late turn of foot in the Del Mar Mile, however, and will be tough to handle if he gets a decent pace this time.
The John Shirreffs trainee will be handled by Brice Blanc, who took over in his most recent start. Owned by his breeder, St. George Farm, Mr. Commons has been favored in seven of his 15 lifetime starts. Last year's fifth-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Mile, he has earnings of $711,660 from an overall record of 5-5-1.
Japanese-bred Trailblazer, with $2,912,376 in career earnings, has been idle since a ninth-place finish in a grade II event May 27 at Tokyo. More effective at longer distances, he is prepping for the Breeders Cup Turf (gr. IT) at 1 1/2 miles Nov. 3. Owned by Koji Maeda and trained by Yasutoshi Ikee, the 5-year-old son of Zenno Rob Roy won a grade II at 11 furlongs in February at Kyoto. He will get the services of legendary Japanese jockey Yutaka Take.
Trailblazer worked a bullet five furlongs at Hollywood Park in 1:00 2/5 on the Cushion Track Oct. 3.
Arnold Zetcher's homebred Midnight Interlude, winner of last year’s Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), has finished out of the money in his only two starts in 2012. Trained by Bob Baffert, the 4-year-old War Chant colt was last of six in the Sept. 1 Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar going one mile on Polytrack. Midnight Interlude won a minor stakes at one mile on the Hollywood turf in June 2011.
Rounding out the field is CRK Stable’s Kettle Corn, second by a neck in the Brubaker. The 5-year-old son of Candy Ride will try turf for the second time in the Arroyo Seco. A winner of the Native Diver Stakes (gr. III) last December, the John Sadler trainee is looking for his first win of the year Saturday. He has started five times this season with a pair of seconds and a trio of thirds.
$150,000 Arroyo Seco Mile Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 3, 2:02 p.m.), 3 & Up (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Mr. Commons (KY), B Blanc, 121, J A Shirreffs
2. Trailblazer (JPN), Y Take, 121, Y Ikee
3. Obviously (IRE), J Talamo, 124, M R Mitchell
4. Kettle Corn (KY), G K Gomez, 119, J W Sadler
5. Midnight Interlude (KY), M Garcia, 119, B Baffert