Obviously wins the 2016 Poker Stakes

Obviously wins the 2016 Poker Stakes

Coglianese Photos/Joe Labozzetta

Obviously Speeds Toward BC in City of Hope

Gelding will use grade II as a springboard to the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT).

Obviously is a special horse to trainer Phil D'Amato for a variety of reasons.

The 8-year-old, Irish-bred Choisir gelding, an eight-time graded winner and a two-time grade I victor, has been running in Southern California grass stakes since 2012 and is D'Amato's last equine attachment to the late Mike Mitchell.

Running for Mitchell, with D'Amato as his assistant, Obviously won five grade II events—including two editions of the Del Mar Mile (gr. IIT)—in 2012-13 and his first of two Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) scores. When Mitchell stepped down because he was battling brain cancer, D'Amato took over the stable, along with Obviously, who won the Shoemaker again in 2014.

But that was the speedster's last win for a while. He went six starts without a victory from August of 2014 to February of 2016, but Obviously found his stride again out of town, when he took the Poker Stakes (gr. IIIT) with ease June 18 at Belmont Park.

It encouraged D'Amato to try the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at least one more time with Obviously, who has come up short in four runnings of the race—third in 2012, fifth in 2013, fifth in 2014, and ninth in 2015.

His one-race prep for his fifth try in the Mile is the $200,000 City of Hope Mile (gr. IIT) Oct. 8 at Santa Anita Park.

"He's an old warrior—something you don't see too often," said D'Amato, who purchased Obviously five years ago at a Tattersalls auction and brought him to Southern California for owners Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino. "Ones like him, you have to take a step back and appreciate it.

"He's stood the test of time, but to win the Breeders' Cup Mile with him would be amazing for so many reasons."

D'Amato feels the new, lightning-fast turf course will suit Obviously, who has been training well according to the conditioner.

"He's a straightforward, good-training horse that loves his job," D'Amato said. "He breezes with his ears up, just waiting to be asked for more. He's a horse that can do :22, :44, and 1:08 and keep going. That's what we'll try to do."

D'Amato also has Pick Six Racing's Vyjack entered and said the City of Hope will be the Into Mischief  gelding's prep for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I).

"He's another warrior," the trainer said of the 6-year-old and three-time graded stakes winner.

Another City of Hope entrant who already captured Breeders' Cup success is Hootenanny . The Quality Road  colt ships in from the East to make his first start in Southern California since he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) in 2014. The 4-year-old has only won in allowance company since, however, for trainer Wesley Ward.

After tries at Royal Ascot, Woodbine, and Churchill Downs, Hootenanny ended a four-race winless streak Sept. 3 in a mile turf allowance at Belterra Park as the 1-10 favorite.

Three-time grade II grass winner Om, along with El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) victor Frank Conversation, round out the graded winners in the field.

Entries: City of Hope Mile S. (G2T)

Santa Anita Park, Saturday, October 08, 2016, Race 8

  • Grade IIT
  • 1m
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 3 yo's & up
  • 4:00 PM (local)
11Frank Conversation (KY)Rafael Bejarano118Doug F. O'Neill20/1
22St. Joe Bay (FL)Santiago Gonzalez121Peter Miller15/1
33Patriots Rule (CA)Joseph Talamo121Robertino Diodoro15/1
44Om (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateGary L. Stevens123Dan L. Hendricks2/1
55Ed Johnson (LA)Keeneland Sales GraduateMartin Garcia118Steven Specht30/1
66Hootenanny (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJulio A. Garcia121Wesley A. Ward12/1
77Express Himself (IRE)Victor Espinoza121John W. Sadler12/1
88Obviously (IRE)Tyler Baze121Philip D'Amato9/5
99Perfectly Majestic (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateNorberto Arroyo, Jr.121Robert B. Hess, Jr.12/1
1010Vyjack (KY)Flavien Prat121Philip D'Amato4/1