Obviously was simply too sharp for his four rivals in the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT), going gate-to-wire by 3 1/4 lengths June 29 to hand trainer Mike Mitchell his 900th career victory at Betfair Hollywood Park (VIDEO).
Ridden by Joe Talamo, 5-year-old Obviously responded when allowed to run on the far turn and drew off from runner-up Za Approval in the stretch. Final time over a firm course was a solid 1:32.86. Wilkinson was third.
Mitchell trains the Irish-bred Obviously, who posted his first grade I victory, for owners Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino. Obviously, one of the top turf milers in the nation, is also a three-time grade II winner including the one-mile American Handicap in his most recent start May 25.
Only the late Bobby Frankel, who won 952 races locally during his Hall of Fame career, has more wins at Hollywood Park than the 65-year-old Mitchell, who claimed his first Shoemaker Mile victory.
The victory secured a starting berth for Obviously in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) on the Santa Anita Park turf Nov. 2 as part of the championships' "Win & You're In" Challenge series. Obviously ran third in last year's Mile, two lengths behind eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan after setting a torrid pace.
"It's funny, the first time I routed this horse (a five-length victory last Aug. 2 at Del Mar), I didn't tell (Talamo) anything,'' said Mitchell. "He opened up five or 10 lengths down the backside, and I was ready to strangle him when he came back. Then, at the eighth pole, I said, 'God, I love that kid.' That's just the way he likes to run, so I never give any instructions.
"The main goal is to run back in the Breeders' Cup Mile," Mitchell added. "I turned him out last year for no problems at all, just to freshen him. He's razor sharp right now. He's training so well and he looks so good. I think he's better than last year. He's stronger and a little bit more filled out.
"It's great to get 900 wins, especially in a race like this.''
Miss Deidre Cogan bred Obviously, who is by Choisir out of the Montjeu mare Leala.
Breaking from the outside in the small field, the 3-10 choice Obviously went to the front after beating back a challenge to his inside from 16-1 Wilkinson. He took command on the clubhouse turn and into the backstretch by five lengths over Wilkinson and Lucayan, racing closely together in second and third. Obviously slowed things down after an opening quarter mile in :22.76 and Talamo gave his charge a breather late on the backstretch as they clipped off a half mile in :46.38.
Obviously reached the quarter pole in 1:09.95 as his challengers drew closer but then inched away again when Talamo gave him his cue rounding the bend. In command by 2 1/2 lengths in the lane, Talamo kept Obviously to his task with left-handed urging and they cruised home comfortably in front.
"He is just an unbelievable horse,'' said Talamo. "He did everything today pretty much as the way we planned. We were cruising early, and he kicked away nicely.
"He gave me the same feeling he always does. He knows his job and knows very well what he has to do.''
Za Approval, ridden by Victor Espinoza, rallied from fourth to gain the place spot by 1 1/4 lengths over Wilkinson and Martin Pedroza. Defending Shoemaker Mile winner Jeranimo was never engaged after trailing most of the way, checking in fourth. Lucayan faded to last.
Obviously, who began his career winning two of three starts in Ireland, ran his career mark to 8-4-2 in 15 races with earnings of $848,361. He won both the Arroyo Seco Mile (gr. IIT) and the Del Mar Mile Handicap (gr. IIT) last year before tackling the Breeders' Cup Mile.
Under equal weights of 124 pounds, Obviously paid $2.60, $2.20, and $2.10, topping a $5.10 exacta. Live Oak Plantation's Za Approval, shipping west for trainer Christophe Clement off back-to-back grade III wins, returned $3.80 and $3. Wilkinson paid $3.80 to show.
Obviously's next start could come in the $250,000 Del Mar Mile Handicap (gr. IIT) Aug. 25. He won last year's race by a nose over Mr. Commons.