November 30, 2023

Bobby Abu Dhabi steps up in Kona Gold; tragedy befalls Ten Blessings

Bobby Abu Dhabi was sadly lost in the midst of a breakthrough season © BENOIT PHOTO

As if Rockingham Ranch, co-owner David Bernsen, and trainer Peter Miller didn’t have enough of a sprint arsenal, you can add another one to the list now that Bobby Abu Dhabi’s scored his breakthrough in Saturday’s $196,345 Kona Gold S. (G2) at Santa Anita.

But sadly, as with the Elkhorn (G2) staged a few minutes earlier at Keeneland, the storyline is marred by a fatality. Rounding Santa Anita’s far turn, Ten Blessings broke down with what turned out to be a fatal injury, and the word from Keeneland on Bullards Alley made for a sickening double-punch to the gut.

Ten Blessings, a well-named son of Smart Strike and two-time champion Indian Blessing, was trained like his dam by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. Sidelined after a third to Mind Your Biscuits and Sharp Azteca in the 2016 Malibu (G1), the five-year-old just won second off the bench and rated a 9-5 chance in the Kona Gold. But after beginning to lose his stalking position, Ten Blessings went tragically wrong. The Blood-Horse’s Jeremy Balan reported that he was put down after fracturing both left front sesamoids.

Amid the grave concerns about Ten Blessings, Bobby Abu Dhabi went on to dethrone reigning titleholder and 7-5 favorite Ransom the Moon. Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza gave him a heady ride, and the 5-2 shot responded with a career-best.

Racing for the same partnership as Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) champion Roy H and Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) star Stormy Liberal, Bobby Abu Dhabi brought top-shelf Grade 1 form into the Kona Gold. The four-year-old was coming off a runner-up effort in the March 10 Triple Bend (G1) to City of Light, the current Malibu hero who made it three straight while stretching out in last Saturday’s Oaklawn H. (G2).

Bobby Abu Dhabi broke on top and led in the opening strides. But Espinoza spied that Miller’s other runner, the 8-1 Calculator, was flashing speed with intent on the outside, and he wisely calculated to let him go. Bobby Abu Dhabi was content to perch in a rail-skimming second through splits of :22.15 and :44.60. Cornering for home as a wayward Calculator shifted out, Bobby Abu Dhabi burst through to take command and opened up before reaching six furlongs in 1:08.85.

Ransom the Moon, done no favors by the drifting Calculator, reduced the gap to 1 1/4 lengths without looking like catching the winner. Blameitonthelaw overtook Calculator for third in a field reduced to four. (Viewer warning: the replay shows Ten Blessings’ breakdown.)

By finishing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.40, Bobby Abu Dhabi increased his earnings to $345,100 from an 8-4-2-0 line. The $335,000 OBS April juvenile purchase captured his career debut during Del Mar’s Bing Crosby season in 2016. Connections pitched him into the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1), where it was a case of too much, too soon, and too far, resulting in a tailed-off fourth behind Mastery. Bobby Abu Dhabi regrouped in a sprint allowance at this track and trip, but had to settle for second in the San Pedro and fourth in the Chick Lang.

Returning stronger than ever from a seven-month layoff, Bobby Abu Dhabi cleared his second-level allowance condition here in December, thereby gaining revenge on San Pedro winner Aristocratic. He moved forward in the Triple Bend and continued his upward curve in the Kona Gold.

Bobby Abu Dhabi was bred by T/C Stable in Kentucky and proved a pinhook success for Grassroots Training and Sales, which snared him for $85,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. The chestnut colt is by Macho Uno and out of the winning Saint Ballado mare Wadena, making him a half-brother to another San Pedro runner-up, Papa Turf (2014). Second dam Ammy Hils was a Grade 3 winner, and herself a half to Grade 2 victor Silver Wizard.

His pedigree pattern isn’t one often seen. Bobby Abu Dhabi is inbred to *Grey Dawn II, the French champion juvenile colt of 1964 and noted sire. Dam Wadena is inbred to Grey Dawn II’s sire, *Herbager, best known as a stamina influence, although apparently not expressed so much in Bobby Abu Dhabi.

Later in the $100,690 American S. (G3), What a View clicked immediately for new rider Stewart Elliott in a wire-to-wire victory. Regular pilot Tyler Baze was away at Keeneland to keep his relationship with Itsinthepost, who finished third as the defending champion in the aforementioned Elkhorn.

In his comfort zone while rolling through fractions of :23.13, :46.42, and 1:10.08 on the firm turf, the Kenny Black veteran knuckled down under pressure in the stretch. Colonist rallied from last to make it close, but What a View stuck his neck out in a final time of 1:33.80 for the mile. Kenjisstorm reported home third, followed by lackluster 3-2 favorite Blackjackcat; Ritzy A. P.; Mr. Roary, who was checked between foes entering the first turn; and Sawyer’s Hill.

Off at 6-1, What a View was winning for the first time since last May’s restricted Crystal Water at this course and distance. The California-bred has back class as the victor of the 2016 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1), and runner-up in the 2017 renewal as well as in its Arcadia (G2) prep. But he’d gone unplaced in his last three, the June 3 Shoemaker Mile (G1), his February 18 comeback in the down-the-hill Daytona (G3), and the March 10 edition of the Kilroe.

Campaigned by Finish Line Racing, The Elwood Johnston Trust, and Taste of Victory Stables, What a View sports a mark of 24-8-5-0, $885,361. The seven-year-old gelded son of Vronsky was produced by the winning Oceans N Mountains, by Hall of Famer Manila.