05/25/2007 11:00PM

Lobo letting his horses do the talking


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - From the launch of his American stable in 2001, Paulo Lobo has not lacked a top horse.

The first was Farda Amiga, the surprise winner of the 2002 Kentucky Oaks and the champion 3-year-old filly that season. Lobo has annually trained a showcase horse, including the stakes winners Lovely Rafaela, Pico Central, and Quero Quero.

This year, there may be two showcase horses.

Lobo has two older horses in his stable that can win Grade 1 races in coming weeks. Monday, Lobo starts the Brazilian import Right Special in the $300,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood Park. On June 30, he starts Molengao in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.

The soft-spoken Lobo does not offer bold predictions, but Right Special's victory in his U.S. debut in April has left Lobo confident about the 5-year-old's chances Monday.

"I think he'll be a very good horse," Lobo said. "I thought he ran huge in his first start. He was a very good horse in Brazil."

It's not that Lobo is seeking publicity. He keeps a low-profile on the Hollywood Park backstretch, overseeing a 28-horse stable that is split between American- and Brazilian-breds. Part of that is because of a limited command of English, part because of his personality. He remains a hands-on trainer, and is not the sort to spend hours visiting with other trainers in the barn area.

Similar to Right Special and Molengao, Lobo, 38, is a Brazilian import who has adapted well to America.

In the late 1990s, Lobo had everything a Brazilian trainer could want - big stable, stakes wins - when he and his wife, Carolina, picked up everything and moved to California, leaving behind the comfort of home for the unknown of one of America's toughest racing circuits.

"The first couple of years were really tough, especially financially," he said. "It was a hard transition from Brazil to here. I miss Brazil, but I never thought to go back."

Lobo started with five 2-year-olds and Farda Amiga, owned by three Brazilians. Farda Amiga won the Oaks, the Alabama Stakes, and finished second in the 2002 Breeders' Cup Distaff. Her owners are best remembered for their wild celebration on the track at Churchill Downs after the Oaks and the confetti that flew through a Beverly Hills ballroom when her name was announced at the Eclipse Awards.

Farda Amiga's success helped Lobo build his stable. Pico Central won the 2004 Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park, the same week that Quero Quero ran third in the Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park and Lovely Rafaela won the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap.

The 2005 season was relatively quiet, but it also was Molengao's first season in the United States. He won an allowance race in April 2005, but bled in the Californian Stakes, which curtailed his campaign.

In 2006, Molengao had 1 victory in 6 starts in a season plagued by ankle soreness. He ended the year with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap last December.

By far, 2007 has been Molengao's best year. The 6-year-old won the San Antonio Handicap in February and the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap earlier this month. He was second to Lava Man in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap in March.

"When we came back from Del Mar, we started on the Cushion Track and he loved it," Lobo said of Hollywood Park's synthetic surface. "He was much more sound. I am expecting a very good effort" in the Gold Cup.

Right Special has won 4 of 12 starts, including Group 3 stakes in Brazil in 2005 and 2006. In his U.S. debut on April 26, Right Special rallied from last behind a slow pace in a field of six to win by a length even though jockey Brice Blanc lost his whip in the stretch. Right Special made up more than five lengths even though the first six furlongs of the race was run in 1:12.90.

"They were walking," Lobo said. "It was a tough allowance race that he won, but he did it very easily.

"My biggest concern is that he could bounce from the last race. He was coming from a long layoff. Sometimes South American horses bounce a little bit when they make their second start, but he's training super."

Lobo's best season came in 2004 when his stable earned $1,923,033. Last year, by comparison, was a disappointment, with earnings of $640,151. Through Thursday, Lobo's barn has already earned $663,344. This could be a big season.

As for the future, there is a 2-year-old Gone West filly named Friendly Silk who is out of Farda Amiga. She is expected to debut this summer.

She is not the only the only youngster in Lobo's life. He and his wife have twin 19-month-old daughters - Maria Clara and Maria Eugenia. The girls are more active by the day and are keeping mom and dad quite busy.

"They are going to destroy the apartment," Lobo said.