DEL MAR MILE | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLS AND UP | GRADE 2 | ONE MILE (TURF)
Obviously registered his third consecutive graded-stakes win as the overwhelming favorite in the $200,000 Del Mar Mile, but he had to dig in close to home to hold off a couple of challengers Aug. 25 on the turf.
The 5-year-old Irish-bred son of Choisir is being pointed to a return engagement in the Breeders Cup Mile Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park. He ran third in last year's championship event after setting a blazing pace.
This season, Obviously posted comfortable back-to-back wins in the American Handicap and Shoemaker Mile at Betfair Hollywood Park for trainer Mike Mitchell and owners Anthony Fanticola and Joe Scardino. After gliding to victory by 3 ¼ lengths in the Shoemaker for his first Grade 1 win, the bay gelding came into the Del Mar Mile at the top of his game.
But Obviously, the 3-10 favorite in the five-horse field, worked hard for this half-length tally, with unheralded California-bred He Be Fire N Ice a determined second and Silentio a neck farther back in third. The winner was timed in 1:32.64 on firm turf.
"He didn't open up like he usually does," Mitchell noted. "He didn't have that [winning] margin that he usually has. But he fired and he dug in when [He Be Fire N Ice] came at him. It was a real good horse race."
The confirmed front-runner got away a step slowly for regular rider Joe Talamo, ceding the early advantage to El Commodore on his outside. Obviously tugged his way into his usual position in front on the clubhouse turn while racing in the three-path but did not get his usual separation on El Commodore with Silentio stalking comfortably in third. Quarter-mile fractions were :23.35, :46.96, and 1:09.72.
"He came away from there a little slow, but that's not unusual for him," said Talamo, who won the Del Mile for the third year in a row. "What made it look so noticeable was that [El Commodore] just busted out of there. But I took him wide and let him roll. I look now and see that he went the half in :46 and 4 [fifths] and I can't believe it. That's as slow as he's ever gone."
Obviously put El Commodore away in upper stretch to open a two-length edge. But He Be Fire N Ice, launching a bid on the final turn for Victor Espinoza, was cutting into the lead with Silentio and Rafael Bejarano also rallying three-wide. Obviously, though, held on gamely for Talamo under left-handed urging.
"I got after him late, but I usually do," Talamo said. "He's the kind of horse that if he gets out there on his own, he starts waiting on horses. When they come to him, he'll dig in and fight. But you've got to stay after him. "
The win was the sixth in seven tries at one mile on turf for Obviously, who boosted his career mark to 9-4-2 in 16 starts with earnings of $968,361. Winner of the Del Mar Mile by a nose over Mr. Commons last year, Obviously is now 3-for-3 on the Del Mar grass. He has won six of his past eight races overall.
Miss Deidre Cogan bred Obviously, who is out of the Montjeu mare Leala.
Obviously carried 125 pounds, spotting his opponents six to eight pounds, and paid $2.60, $2.20, and $2.10. He Be Fire N Ice, winner of the California Dreamin' Handicap over state-breds July 21 at Del Mar, returned $3.60 and $2.40. The exacta was worth $9.
Silentio, coming off a four-month layoff for trainer Gary Mandella, turned in a good performance for third, paying $2.40. El Commodore and Tigah followed.