ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 30, 2015)–Grade I winners Obviously and Chiropractor, along with Bal a Bali and Big John B head a wide open field of 11 older horses going 1 1/8 miles on turf in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes at Santa Anita.
A two-time Grade I winner with earnings of more than $1.4 million, Irish-bred Obviously showed his customary early speed, but tired to finish ninth, beaten eight lengths, in his most recent start, the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 31. Contested over a turf course listed as “good,” the 8-year-old gelding returns to a firmer course over which he has four wins from 10 tries.
Owned by Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino, Obviously was a close third over a yielding turf in the Grade I Woodbine Mile two starts back on Sept. 13 and will be shooting for his first win since taking the Grade I Shoemaker Mile (turf) a Santa Anita in June, 2014. Originally conditioned by the late Mike Mitchell, Obviously will make his seventh start for former Mitchell assistant, Phil D’Amato.
An upset winner of the Grade I Hollywood Derby in his first stakes engagement going 1 1/8 miles on turf at Del Mar Nov. 28, Glen Hill Farm’s homebred Chiropractor could be the “now” horse for Tom Proctor as he faces older competition.
Handled to perfection by Corey Nakatani, the 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Kitten’s Joy bested among others, the highly regarded Om, who came out of the Hollywood Derby to register a smashing win in the Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile (turf) here on Saturday. With three wins from seven lifetime starts, Chiropractor would benefit from a fast pace in the San Gabriel.
Trained by Richard Mandella, Brazilian-bred Bal a Bali comes off a close second in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles turf Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar Nov. 27 and has kept good company in all five of his stateside starts.
A one length winner of his U.S. debut, the Grade III, one mile turf American Stakes at Santa Anita May 9, Bal a Bali took a one mile turf allowance at Del Mar two starts back on Oct. 30 and has won 13 of 17 lifetime starts. Owned by Fox Hill Farms and Siena Farm, LLC., the 6-year-old horse has earnings of $667,478.
A dedicated deep closer, Big John B flew from last among a field of 14 to be second, beaten two lengths in the Grade II, 1 ½ miles Hollywood Turf Cup on Nov. 26 at Del Mar. Well beaten two starts back in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf at 1 ½ miles Oct. 31, Big John B went into the Breeders’ Cup with three consecutive wins–the Grade II Del Mar Handicap Aug. 22, the Grade II Cougar II Handicap July 24, and a 1 ¼ miles turf starter allowance at Santa Anita June 28.
Trained by Phil D’Amato and owned by Michael House, Big John B, a 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Hard Spun, has two wins from five turf starts at Santa Anita and has 14 wins from 36 career starts. His earnings stand at $767,175.
The complete field for the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes, to be run as the eighth race on a nine-race card Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Flamboyant, Brice Blanc, 118; Big John B, Rafael Bejarano, 123; Poshsky, Victor Espinoza, 118; Texas Ryano, James Graham, 118; Power Ped, Mario Gutierrez, 118; Class Leader, Kent Desormeaux, 118; Bal a Bali, Flavien Prat, 118; Obviously, Joe Talamo, 118; Wanstead Gardens, Gary Stevens, 118; Chiropractor, Corey Nakatani, 123, and Macro Access, Martin Garcia, 118. ALSO ELIGIBLE: Kenjisstorm, Edwin Maldonado, 118; Southern Freedom, Mike Smith, 118, and Quick Casablanca, Tyler Baze, 118.
First post time on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.