06/18/2016 3:15PM

Obviously turns back time to win Poker Stakes

New York Racing Association photo
Obviously and jockey Jose Lezcano win the Poker Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – It was fair to wonder if, at age 8 and having not won a race in two years, Obviously’s best days were behind him.

Obviously not.

Obviously got loose on the lead under Jose Lezcano through an easy first quarter, then dragged the jockey around the Belmont Park Widener turf course through the last six furlongs en route to a 3 3/4-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $300,000 Poker Stakes. Force the Pass was second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Offering Plan.

Not only did Obviously win the Poker demonstratively, his final time of 1:31.65 for the mile was 0.02 seconds off the course and stakes record set by Elusive Quality on July 4, 1998.

Obviously, an Irish-bred gelding by Choisir owned by Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino, won for the 12th time in 27 starts. It was his eighth graded stakes victory and his first win since taking the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita in June 2014.

“That’s pretty impressive for an 8-year-old,” Chris Davis, the assistant to trainer Phil D’Amato, said about the final time. “He’s just a really cool horse to be around.”

As far as Lezcano is concerned, Obviously is a cooler horse when no one is around him. Obviously, breaking from post 3, got to the lead through an opening quarter in 23.07 seconds. He then ran a second quarter in 22.89 seconds and a third quarter in 22.74 while maintaining a clear advantage. He had plenty left while getting his last quarter in 22.95 seconds while being mildly urged.

“The first quarter he did it very comfortable, the second quarter I tried to slow him down a little bit, but he jumped into the bit and got real strong and started to pick it up and pick it up and go faster and faster,” Lezcano said.

Davis said he knew the race was pretty much over after the opening half-mile.

“With this kind of horse on this turf course, you see 23 and almost 46 flat, he’s just cruising at that point,” Davis said. “No one hooked us. They didn’t want to go head-and-head with us because we can go 22 and 44. Jose left enough in the tank and did what he was supposed to do, he kicked on.”

Obviously returned $6.60 as the favorite.

Davis said Obviously would return to Southern California on Tuesday, and D’Amato would figure out where to point him next. D’Amato also trains Midnight Storm, the front-running winner of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita on June 4.