Obviously winning the Shoemaker Mile Stakes on Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park. (Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates)
A gelding lost in the shuffle of the Breeders’ Cup Mile storylines last year, Obviously is on his way toward making sure he isn’t forgotten this year. Undefeated at a mile in 2013, Obviously earned his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Mile on Saturday when he won the Shoemaker Mile, a “Win and You’re In” challenge series event.
Imported from Europe in 2011, Obviously’s first season of racing in the United States came in 2012. The Irish-bred had won two of his three starts in Ireland, where he debuted in July of his 3-year-old year, before being sold to American interests.
He appeared in California a little more than five months after the sale under the watchful eye of trainer Mike Mitchell, who entered him in an optional claiming race. The then 4-year-old almost won his U.S. debut, losing by a head at 6 ½ furlongs. He won his next start against eventual stakes winner Clubhouse Ride before going through a dry spell, but he woke up when the Mitchell barn moved to Del Mar in 2012.
Obviously caught the attention of those at the summer meet when he won an optional claiming race by five lengths over multiple stakes winner Racing Aptitude. The gelding proved the win wasn’t a fluke when he beat multiple graded stakes winners Mr. Commons and Jeranimo in his graded stakes debut in the Del Mar Mile before going on to capture another graded stakes win a few months later.
OBVIOUSLY AFTER WINNING 2012 DEL MAR MILE
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
In a strong Breeders’ Cup Mile field, Obviously’s success was overlooked in the prerace story lines. But he again showed that he was the real deal when he finished third beaten by two lengths by eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan and only a half-length by Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, whose performance was talked about for months after his second-place finish. While Obviously fell to two top Americans, he beat the most talked about Europeans in Excelebration and Moonlight Cloud.
Obviously has continued on his roll in 2013, winning two of his three starts and giving Mike Mitchell his 900th win at Hollywood Park in the Shoemaker Mile. The win was the fastest Shoemaker run since 2004 and the fifth time Obviously has won under a time of 1:33 at the distance.
Obviously is by Australian champion Choisir, a multiple Group 1 winner. Choisir’s victories all came at sprint distances, including two group stakes victories within five days at the prestigious Royal Ascot meet. However, some of Choisir’s most successful runners have won at a mile, including Starspangledbanner, a champion in Australia and Europe, and multiple Group 1 winner Sacred Choice.
Obviously’s first two dams’ only black-type performers come from the gelding but his third dam is a blue hen mare who produced three stakes winners. Her stakes winners include the popular Hawkster, a winner of three American Grade 1 events, including a course-record-setting win in the Oak Tree Invitational Handicap.
Trainer Mike Mitchell thinks that Obviously is stronger than ever this year and is pointing the gelding for another run at the Del Mar meet. If Mitchell’s observation of the gelding holds up for the rest of the year, Obviously could be a horse to watch in the Mile.
“We’ll definitely run in the Del Mar Mile Handicap (on Aug. 25). … The main goal is to run back in the Breeders’ Cup Mile,” Mitchell said. “I turned him out last year for no problems, 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.”
The Mile historically is one of the strongest races of the Breeders’ Cup every year and with potential appearances by Wise Dan and Obviously, the race looks to be a race to look forward to again in 2013.