05/23/2013 2:37PM

Hollywood Park: Obviously may have to adapt in American Handicap

Benoit & Associates
Obviously was second, beaten a half-length, in the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita on April 20.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Obviously has earned his status as one of California’s top turf milers by taking control of races from the start.

The strategy worked with wins in two Grade 2 races last year – the Del Mar Mile and Arroyo Seco Mile – and a game third to 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita last fall.

In Saturday’s $150,000 American Handicap over a mile on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park, Obviously will be favored to win his third stakes. To do so, he may need to display a more versatile running style.

Racing Aptitude, unraced since winning an optional claimer at Del Mar last August, and Chosen Miracle, who has been second or third in two graded stakes for turf sprinters in the last year, could press Obviously for the lead.

The presence of those runners may force jockey Joe Talamo to make key decisions in the opening furlongs aboard Obviously. But strategy will not be a subject of a prerace conference between Talamo and trainer Mike Mitchell.

“I won’t say anything to Joe and fill him with ideas,” Mitchell said. “I haven’t given him any ideas in the past.”

Talamo has been aboard the 5-year-old Obviously in his last seven starts, including the two stakes wins and the BC Mile last fall. In the Del Mar Mile, Talamo had Obviously in front by five lengths after a half-mile and held on to win by a nose over Mr. Commons. The early margin seemed wider to Mitchell and left him worried that Talamo had used too much of Obviously’s energy.

“He was eight in front and I was ready to choke him when he got back,” Mitchell said. “At the eighth pole, I said, ‘I love that guy.’ ”

The Grade 2 American Handicap is Obviously’s second start of 2013. Owned by Anthony Fanticola and Joe Scardino, Obviously was second, beaten a half-length, by Chips All In in the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on April 20. Chosen Miracle was a troubled third in that race, running in traffic in the stretch.

“I knew that the winner looked good on paper,” he said. “I’m not saying that 6 1/2 isn’t something I wouldn’t entertain later, but I think [Obviously] likes the mile and he likes to be breezing and not pressured. He’s all race horse.”

Obviously is part of a field of six in the American, the third of nine races on Saturday. The field includes two Grade 1 or Group 1 winners in Drill and Lucayan.

Drill won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in 2011 and was fourth of six in his turf debut in the San Simeon last month.

Lucayan won the Group 1 French 2000 Guineas in May 2012, but is winless in his last three starts. The American Handicap is his first start in the United States, and debut for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale.