10/06/2016 12:26PM

Obviously to show the way in City of Hope Mile

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Joe Labozzetta/NYRA
Obviously will make his first start Saturday in the City of Hope Mile since winning the Poker Stakes in June.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The $200,000 City of Hope Mile at Santa Anita on Saturday was not the initial target for Obviously in early autumn. Trainer Phil D’Amato intended to send Obviously to the Woodbine Mile in September, only to be foiled by difficult travel plans, he said.

“It was too complicated to get up there,” he said.

Obviously’s role in the Grade 2 City of Hope Mile on turf is easy to predict. The 8-year-old gelding will be a danger from the front in a field of 10. The City of Hope Mile is the final local prep for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile here on Nov. 5.

Obviously has been a fixture in the BC Mile, having run in the race in the last four years. His best finish was a third in 2012 at Santa Anita. Last year, Obviously was ninth in the BC Mile at Keeneland.

The City of Hope Mile drew a solid field, including Om, a three-time stakes winner who was second in the Del Mar Mile on Aug. 21; Frank Conversation, a two-time stakes winner at Golden Gate Fields last winter; and Hootenanny, who won the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf here in 2014.

D’Amato also starts Vyjack, who was second of three runners in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes at seven furlongs Aug. 27. Saturday’s race is considered a prep for the BC Dirt Mile on Nov. 4 for Vyjack, D’Amato said.

KEY CONTENDERS

Obviously, by Choisir
Last 3 Beyers: 108-106-104

◗ The City of Hope Mile will be the first start for Obviously since a win in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park on June 18, his only victory in three starts this year.

“He’s ready to go,” D’Amato said. “He loves to run fresh.”

◗ The City of Hope Mile is the first stakes at this distance of the autumn meeting. Santa Anita replaced its turf course over the summer.

“I think he’ll love the way the new turf course is,” D’Amato said. “To me, it’s fair and a little speed favoring, but I’ve seen horses come from behind. You know where he’ll be early on, and hopefully late.”

Om, by Munnings
Last 3 Beyers: 105-72-100

◗ Om was beaten a half-length by the D’Amato-trained Midnight Storm in the Del Mar Mile, his first start in more than six months. Trained by Dan Hendricks, Om is capable of setting the pace but has been equally as effective as a stalker in the last year.

“Obviously is the pace horse in the race,” Hendricks said. “We need a good trip. He can be near the lead as long as he’s comfortable.”

Express Himself, by Dylan Thomas
Last Beyer: 95

◗ Express Himself was ninth of 12 in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf Aug. 20 in his American debut. The race was the longest of Express Himself’s 22-race career and may have been asking too much, trainer John Sadler said. In England, Express Himself won four times at a mile.

“I think I put him in the wrong race last time,” Sadler said. “I want to give him another shot.”

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