ARCADIA - Since arriving from Europe last May, French-bred Obrigado had developed a reputation of teasing without pleasing.
The 4-year-old had won only once - a division of the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar in July - but had collected hefty paychecks in five graded stakes.
That all changed on Sunday when jockey Garrett Gomez got Obrigado to win the $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap in a blanket finish. He beat One Off, On The Acorn and Runaway Dancer by a half-length in 2:27.21 for the 1<MD+,%30,%55,%70>1/<MD-,%0,%55,%70>2 miles on turf.
On The Acorn, however, was moved up to second and One Off was demoted to third by the Santa Anita stewards for a bumping incident in the final furlong.
Brave Maestro, the longest shot in the seven horse field at 28-1, immediately was sent to the early lead and opened an 18-length advantage down the backstretch.
But Brave Maestro, who finished last, back-peddled rapidly entering the stretch as Obrigado took command and battled the length of the lane for his fifth career victory.
"The concern was that there was no pace," Gomez said. "I didn't know what I was going to do, but when Tyler's (Baze, aboard Brave Maestro) horse took off like he did, I decided to ignore him."
Obrigado returned $9.80 and earned $90,000.
Santa Anita Derby winner Brother Derek will miss next Saturday's Big 'Cap because of a bone chip in his left ankle.
"It's a recurring problem that probably will require four months (off)," trainer Dan Hendricks said. "It's not the end of the world. We'll do a nuclear scan Tuesday.
"He's got a little chip that has to come out, and (then) we're going to turn him out and bring him back for the fall campaign. It's very minor."
Jon Court, 46, has been named the 2007 recipient of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, which honors riders whose careers and personal character have earned esteem for the individual and sport of horse racing.
"It's an incredibly high honor," an emotional Court said. "It's also very humbling to know that it was the riders nationwide who voted for me."
Court will receive the Woolf Award trophy in Santa Anita winner's circle ceremonies on March 25.
Joe Papac, a Southern California trainer for more than 20 years, died last Saturday in San Luis Obispo at age 59, according to long-time friend Tom Knust, agent for jockey Corey Nakatani.
Papac was a graduate of Arcadia High School and an All-American football player at Pasadena City College.
Services are pending.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, a regular rider on the local circuit before returning to the East Coast more than a year ago, is expected to handle Milk It Mick in Saturday's $300,000 Frank Kilroe Mile.
"He's ridden a lot for me in the past," Milk It Mick trainer Jim Cassidy said. "I called him and said, `If you're not doing anything on March 3, I've got two horses for you to ride,' so he's coming out."
Smith also will be aboard Pacified for Cassidy in the $75,000 China Doll Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf.
Patrick Valenzuela, Arcadia's leading jockey last year with 77 victories, hasn't ridden since fracturing three ribs when he was kicked by a horse in the Hollywood Park paddock on Nov. 26.
"He sounds good," said agent Jim Pegram, who recently talked with Valenzuela by telephone. "He's hoping to come back next month."