04/13/2012 1:44PM

Santa Anita: Obviously, Contested could be a pair of winning favorites

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ARCADIA, Calif. – The gelding Obviously and the filly Contested will be strongly favored and, of course, challenged by capable rivals in consecutive allowance races at Santa Anita on Sunday. Their trainers are confident the lightly raced horses can produce wins.

Obviously, a 4-year-old Irish-bred gelding trained by Mike Mitchell, makes his second start of the year, and second in the United States, in a second-level optional $62,500 claimer over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in the seventh race.

In his debut on March 22, Obviously was near the front throughout against a similar field and was beaten a head after leading in the stretch. For Sunday’s race, Obviously will be ridden by Brice Blanc, a move designed to aid the gelding in racing from off the pace, Mitchell said.

“He just needs to be rated,” Mitchell said. “That’s why I put Blanc on him. His best races are when you take a hold on him.

“He doesn’t have to be on the lead. He’s a very nice colt, I really think. He’s one of my best horses. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but he’s trained so well.”

Owned by a partnership, Obviously won two consecutive races in Ireland last July and October before joining Mitchell’s stable. Sunday, Obviously must beat Luckarack, a seven-time winner who was third in a seven-furlong optional claimer on Feb. 26; and Metropolitan Man, who was claimed for $50,000 by Robertino Diodoro when he won a hillside turf race on March 15.

Contested made two starts last year, finishing second in a maiden race at Del Mar in September and winning a maiden special weight race over six furlongs by 6 1/2 lengths on Oct. 2. Trained by Bob Baffert for his wife, Jill, Contested was sidelined after that race.

By Ghostzapper, Contested resumed workouts in early February, and will be a strong favorite in the eighth race, a $65,000 allowance for 3-year-old fillies over 6 1/2 furlongs.

“We had a setback with her [last year], but she’s doing well,” Baffert said. “This will set her up for something.”

Baffert trains two of the five runners, including the Tiz the Tide, a maiden race winner in her second start on Feb. 26.

The field is rounded out by the California-bred stakes winner Heleonor Rugby; Dypsy, third in the Sweet Life Stakes on turf in February; and Hidden Passion, second in her U.S. debut on March 23.