Can anyone catch Obviously in the City of Hope Mile?

Can anyone catch Obviously in the City of Hope Mile?

Benoit Photo

Obviously Big Standout in City of Hope Stakes

The speedy 5-year-old preps Oct. 5 at Santa Anita for return to Breeders' Cup Mile.

Obviously looms a standout against eight rivals in the $150,000 City of Hope Mile (gr. IIT) on the Santa Anita Park turf as he goes for his fourth consecutive graded stakes triumph Oct. 5.

Likely headed for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) over the same course Nov. 2, the speedy 5-year-old races for Mike Mitchell, who trains him for Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino.

This is the third name in three years for the 28-year-old autumn turf stakes fixture, which was known as the Oak Tree Mile until last year when it became the Arroyo Seco Mile. It is now named for the leading regional cancer research center and a Breeders' Cup charity beneficiary. Though it is not part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series, the race serves as a major local prep for the Breeders' Cup Mile. It is race 4 on the Saturday program with a 2:30 p.m. PDT post time.

Obviously, who won the Arroyo Seco last season, advanced to the Breeders' Cup Mile where he finished a solid third behind eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan after leading the field to mid-stretch. The gelding comes into this year's race off a diminishing half-length victory in the Del Mar Mile Handicap (gr. IIT) Aug. 25. Obviously, as usual, showed the way and was two lengths clear mid-stretch but had to dig down late as the unheralded He Be Fire N Ice  charged home.

In four starts this year, Obviously has three victories including a grade I in the Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT), and would surpass $1 million in career earnings with a win Saturday. He has six wins from seven tries at the one-mile distance. His only loss of the season came in his seasonal debut in the San Simeon (gr. IIIT) when second on the hillside turf course at about 6 1/2 furlongs.

Joe Talamo returns on the 124-pound highweight, who breaks from post 5. Looking for his 10th career win in his 17th start, Obviously should get his usual front-running setup.

He Be Fire N Ice, a California-bred 5-year-old son of Unusual Heat, made a game run between horses to get up for second from off the pace in the Del Mar Mile. That snapped a three-race win streak for the gray/roan horse, who won a state-bred stakes a month earlier for trainer John Sadler and Cicero Farms. Victor Espinoza has the return call from post 6.

Sadler will also send out Hronis Racing’s Barocci, a Japanese-bred 5-year-old who was a sharp third to Obviously three starts back in the American Handicap (gr. IIT), a one-mile turf test May 25 at Betfair Hollywood Park. Barocci has been idle since running fifth in the Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT) at Del Mar July 20. Corey Nakatani figures to get a stalking trip aboard the 5-year-old son of Deep Impact.

Recent English import No Jet Lag would benefit should a good pace duel develop. Anthony Ramsden's 3-year-old son of Johar demonstrated a big late turn of foot in winning a one-mile allowance at Del Mar Aug. 11 for trainer Simon Callaghan. No Jet Lag faces older horses for the first time.

Willyconker, who upset the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita in March 2012, returns to the West Coast after failing to make an impact in two starts this summer at Saratoga Race Course. The Irish-bred 6-year-old is trained by Eric Guillot for Southern Equine Stable, which claimed him from trainer Doug O'Neill for $62,500 in May at Hollywood.

Endorsement could be a pace factor after a front-running second to Indy Point in the one-mile Wickerr at Del Mar this summer. Indy Point returned to take the 10-furlong John Henry Turf Championship (gr. IIT) Sept. 29.

$150,000 City of Hope Mile Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 4, 2:30 p.m.), 3 & Up (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Huntsville (CA), C Sutherland Kruse, 119, B Abrams
2. Starspangled Heat (CA), S Arias, 119, B Abrams
3. Willyconker (IRE), R Bejarano, 119, E J Guillot
4. No Jet Lag (KY), M E Smith, 116, S Callaghan
5. Obviously (IRE), J Talamo, 124, M R Mitchell
6. He Be Fire N Ice (CA), V Espinoza, 119, J W Sadler
7. Barocci (JPN), C S Nakatani, 119, J W Sadler
8. Endorsement (KY), E A Maldonado, 119, H O Palma
9. Polytechnicien (KY), G L Stevens, 119, R E Mandella