01/20/2007 12:00AM

Boboman faces some hurdles


ARCADIA, Calif. - If Boboman is a legitimate Grade 1-caliber turf horse, he will win the Grade 2, $150,000 San Marcos Stakes on Sunday at Santa Anita. But the San Marcos is not easy, and even though he is a Grade 1 winner, Boboman does face issues.

The San Marcos, run at 1 1/4 miles, drew a deeper field than the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup that Boboman won last month, and before he establishes himself as undisputed division leader, Boboman must outrun three well-regarded Bobby Frankel trainees.

European Group 3 winners Notable Guest and Hello Sunday make their U.S. debuts for Frankel in the San Marcos. Group 1 Brazilian import Heroi Do Bafra runs for the second time locally after a troubled runner-up finish Jan. 1 in a third-level allowance.

"On paper, Notable Guest is the best of the three," Frankel said. "But [Heroi Do Bafra] has already run, and he ran good."

Also in the field are Neil Drysdale trainees One Off and Obrigado, who finished second in the Hollywood Derby. Don Incauto is coupled with Hello Sunday. Clipperdown is an allowance-class horse and a longshot.

Boboman will answer two key questions in the San Marcos: Was his Grade 1 Turf Cup win as good as it looks? And if so, why was he under a drive halfway through the race? Turf Cup favorite T.H. Approval suffered a career-ending injury in the Turf Cup, casting doubt on the quality of the race. Boboman appeared to lose interest into the far turn.

"Sometimes he goes to sleep in the middle of his races," said trainer Richard Mandella. "He doesn't know when to switch on or switch off."

What the heck, he is still learning. Boboman, 6, has raced only 10 times, has won his last three, and probably is legitimate. Mandella said the turnback to 10 furlongs is not an issue.

"I freshened him up a little bit," he said.

Boboman and Notable Guest were to meet in the Turf Cup, but Frankel said Notable Guest did not like the Hollywood turf course.

Notable Guest, 4 for 15, is racing for the first time since September. "He has trained really well on the [Cushion Track]," Frankel said, but added that 1 1/4 miles "might be a little short for him."

Heroi Do Bofra was blocked for much of the stretch in his U.S. debut at one mile. A Group 1 marathon winner in Brazil, he will be right at home going 1 1/4 miles. The San Marcos goes as race 7 on a nine-race card.