Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino's Obviously shipped east from California for the running of the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday. The speedy 8-year-old son of Choisir grabbed the lead out of the gate and never looked back under Jose Lezcano, covering a mile on the firm turf in 1:31.65, two hundredths of a second off of Elusive Quality's course record, set in 1998. The Phil D'Amato trainee crossed the wire 3 3/4 lengths in front of his competition.
“The turf is very firm,” began Lezcano. “The horse is a freak he's something else. He broke well and went out with no trouble. The second-quarter I had to get him relaxed. He started to jump at the bit, but heading for home he did it easy and got going again. Looking at the splits he just kept going faster and faster. I think he's a very nice horse.”
Obviously broke very sharply, nearly a half-length in front of the field at the first jump. He strode out to a one-length lead and was well-handled by Lezcano, setting a reasonable first fraction of :23.07 while chased by King Kreesa and Grand Arch. Obviously continued on at nearly the same pace to mark a half-mile in :45.96, moving comfortably on the lead. King Kreesa was 1 1/2 lengths back in second, with Grand Arch right on his flank. Force the Pass cruised along in fourth position, about four lengths off the lead, while Offering Plan and Takeover Target were far back of the field.
Rounding the single turn in the one-mile event at the top of the stretch, Obviously held a two-length lead after picking up his pace to cover six furlongs in 1:08.70, marking a time of :22.74 second for the third quarter mile. Under nothing but hand-urging from Lezcano, Obviously continued to pour on the speed down the stretch, covering the final quarter in :22.95 to cross the wire 3 3/4 lengths in front. Force the Pass was the best of the rest, while Offering Plan and Takeover Target closed from far back to finish third and fourth, respectively.
“Phil had said this horse was doing really, really good,” reported assistant Chris Davis. “He's been working great. I've been getting on him for the last week [at Belmont] and he's really solid. He's coming into his own. He's sound, he's happy, he's fit. He seems like he's starting to relax better. He really is just maturing. He's one of those horses that you don't want to run every two or three weeks, you've got to hand pick the best races for him, but he's really doing well. We couldn't be happier with him.”
Bred in Ireland by Miss Deidre Cohen, Obviously began his career there as a 3-year-old, winning two races. He came to the United States in 2012 as a 4-year-old, winning or placing in several allowance races across the California circuit. He took his first graded stake in August of that year, and has gone on to win a total of eight graded stakes in his career. Obviously has competed in the Breeders' Cup Mile for the past four consecutive years, with his best finish coming in 2012 when he was third. Overall, his career record stands at 12-6-3 from 27 starts, with earnings of over $1.74 million.
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