03/26/2013 1:03PM

Gulfstream Park mystery trainer a winner first time out

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Barbara D. Livingston
Omayad, a two-time Group 1 winner in Chile but unraced since last june, is scheduled to start in the Appleton for trainer Oussama Aboughazale.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The biggest question being asked before Sunday’s ninth race was, who is Oussama Aboughazale? That unfamiliar name was listed as the trainer of record for Diva Spirit, a well-bred daughter of A.P. Indy who returned from a six-month layoff to upset two other A.P. Indy offspring tutored by a couple of more familiar names, Bill Mott and Kiaran McLaughlin.

Diva Spirit rallied from far back at the top of the stretch under jockey Edgar Prado to run down the tiring Profetiza, who was making her career debut for Mott, and McLaughlin’s odds-on Sister State, to win her 3-year-old debut at nearly 30-1.

So who is Oussama Aboughazale?

Aboughazale is originally from Florida but has been living in Chile for the last 30 years, according to his assistant Fernando Michell. He currently has six horses stabled at Payson Park and another seven 2-year-olds on the farm, all of whom race under the name Sumaya US Stables.

“Oussama is the owner of Sumaya Stables,” said Michell, a veterinarian from Chile who is currently overseeing Aboughazale’s operation in Florida. “After a bad year last season in the U.S., Oussama decided to train the horses himself. He also owns a very large, private stable in Chile, where he is one of the leading owners, but he does not train his own horses over there.”

Aboughazale campaigned Diva Spirit’s dam, Wild Spirit, in this country 10 years ago. A three-time Group 1 winner in her native Chile, Wild Spirit came to the United States in 2003 to win the Grade 1 Ruffian with trainer Bobby Frankel. She made her final start the following spring, finishing second behind Azeri at Oaklawn Park in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom.

“We’ve always had big expectations for this filly since she was so well bred and out of Oussama’s best horse, Wild Spirit,” said Michell. “She did not run well in her only start last year as a 2-year-old, but she’s been breezing so nicely up here. We put a lot of work into her, and Edgar helped so much. We were rookies, unknowns on Sunday, but anything can happen and for us it happened well. It was a big thrill to win our first race with our first starter at Gulfstream Park.”

Sumaya will have two horses running on Saturday’s Florida Derby day card, including Omayad in the Grade 3 Appleton. Omayad, a two-time Group 1 winner in Chile, made two starts last season in the United States but has not raced since June, when he finished seventh and last in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap.

“He had some problems after that race, but he’s been doing very nicely now, and we expect him to run well on Saturday,” said Michell. “All our horses love it at Payson Park. We came here because we like to keep it natural for them. It’s a lot more wide open and a much more relaxed atmosphere than training them at the track. We train them all South American-style here. They gallop bareback without stirrups. People looked at them a little funny when we first arrived, but they’re all used to it now.”