Boboman, who returned to action for trainer Richard Mandella this summer after nearly 30 months on the sidelines, completed his remarkable comeback by winning the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup Handicap (gr. IT) in his stakes debut Saturday.
"This horse had such bad luck," said Mandella, who registered his record-tying third Turf Cup victory. "He just had all kinds of little problems.
"He always appeared to be a good horse. We had lots of niggling problems with him, but he was right today."
With Garrett Gomez in the irons, Boboman, a 5-year-old Kingmambo
horse, swept past the leading Meteor Storm mid-stretch en route to a one-length win over the late running Runaway Dancer, completing the 1 1/2-mile turf test in a stakes record 2:24 3/5.
"I had my hands full early on in the race," said Gomez, who has emerged as the favorite to win the 2006 Eclipse Award as the nation's leading jockey. "Once I got him to settle, he kind of came out of the bridle. I had to pretty much ride him all the way to keep him where I was at. I kept knickering and smooching at him down the backside. I'm pedaling, but he ain't going nowhere. Finally about the five-sixteenths pole, we went by (Artiste Royal), and I thought I was in real good shape. His whole attitude changed after that."
Artiste Royal and Meteor Storm finished in a dead heat for third, 3 1/2 lengths behind. T.H. Approval, the 3-2 favorite in the field of eight, stalked the leaders to the far turn but apparently suffered a minor injury to his right foreleg and finished seventh in the field of eight older horses.
Owned and bred by Wertheimer et Frere, Boboman won his third successive race, including a 1 1/4-length win over optional claiming/allowance foes at 10 furlongs on the Hollywood Park turf course in his last start Nov. 2. After beginning his career in France, where he had an allowance victory to show in four starts, Boboman transferred to Mandella in March 2004, running once before being injured. He came back July 30 at Del Mar, running third in a first-level allowance race at one mile. Boboman ran third once again under the same conditions at Del Mar one month later before breaking through with a 4 3/4-length at 1 1/4 miles on the Santa Anita turf Oct. 7.
Wertheimer brothers Alain and Gerard are the senior members of the French family that owns the world famous Chanel perfume manufacturing business.
Mandella joined John Gosden, Charlie Whittingham and Bobby Frankel with three Turf Cup wins with the triumph by Boboman. He also won with The Hague in 1982 and with Lazy Lode in 1999.
"When The Hague won it twenty-some years ago, that was a pretty big deal for me, so that's pretty hard to top," he said. "But this is nice, because we've been waiting a long time, as you can read, for this guy to come around. It's been well worth the wait.
"When he won his last race, I said right there that this is what I would try next. I wasn't sure I could beat these horses, but I wanted to give it a try. They were just galloping along, and once Garrett kind of got him talked into it, you could see him kind of moving along pretty good."
Mandella switched to Gomez Saturday when Boboman's regular rider, Alex Solis, opted to stay with T.H. Approval, most recently eighth in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs.
As expected, Symphony Sid broke out to a big early lead by five lengths over the tracking Cosmonaut and Meteor Storm after fractions of :47 1/5 and 1:11 2/5. By the time Symphony Sid completed the mile in 1:35 3/5 he was getting pressure from his rivals, who overtook the pacesetter coming off the final turn. Meteor Storm, ridden by Victor Espinoza, took the lead over Cosmonaut but had little left to offer when confronted by the surging Boboman, who overcame his earlier problems and bore down through the stretch under some urging from Gomez.
Runaway Dancer, upset winner of the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT) two years ago, closed from sixth with a quarter-mile to run but was not a serious threat to the winner.
"He ran great today," jockey Aaron Gryder said. "I had a perfect position down the backside, sitting right behind Boboman. Going into the turn when he quickened, I wanted to follow him and be in full stride turning for home. Boboman got away from him a little bit on the turn, but my horse dug in and gave a really good effort."
The lightly raced Boboman, who came into the race with less than $90,000 in career earnings, now has four wins in 10 starts and has banked $239,358.
Sent off as the fifth choice, he paid $20.40, $10 and $4.40. Runaway Dancer returned $20.60 and $6 and completed a $337.80 exacta. Artiste Royale ($3), with Corey Nakatani aboard, and Meteor Storm ($2.80) split the show payoffs.
Cosmonaut, Symphony Sid, T.H. Approval and Mighty Mysterious completed the order. All starters carried 126 pounds.
Boboman is out of the Seattle Slew mare Slewvera.