Originally created 05/04/02

Long shot elevates Brazilian trainer



LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Paulo Lobo can call himself an American success story.

The 33-year-old trainer came from his native Brazil 16 months ago to try to build a successful career, much like his father has back home.

Lobo is off to an impressive start after long shot Farda Amiga won the Kentucky Oaks by 1 1/4 lengths over favored Take Charge Lady on Friday.

"How big is this in Brazil? I've got 36 messages just in the last few minutes," Lobo said, holding up his cell phone.

America's premier race for 3-year-old fillies featured a field of nine as impressive as the 19 colts who will run in today's Kentucky Derby. It was shown live in Brazil.

There won't be an Oaks-Derby double for trainers Bob Baffert, Bobby Frankel, Ken McPeek or Saeed bin Suroor.

McPeek's Take Charge Lady faded in the final strides; the Baffert-trained Habibti was third; Frankel's You was fourth; and Suroor's Imperial Gesture was eighth. Each filly carried 121 pounds.

"This is why I didn't run her in the Derby," said McPeek, who will saddle early 9-2 Derby favorite Harlan's Holiday. "I was questioning whether or not she's a mile-and-an-eighth filly. I don't think she's as good here as she's been at other racetracks."

Farda Amiga covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:50 2/5 under Hall of Famer Chris McCarron, who survived a foul claim by Victor Espinoza aboard Habibti.

"I was in a good spot on the turn when the winner came up to me, and I was forced to check," Espinoza said. "My filly never really recovered."

The stewards ruled Farda Amiga didn't interfere with Habibti in the upper stretch.

"There wasn't any contact," McCarron said. "The filly (Farda Amiga) did drift in slightly after we straightened out. The stewards determined that my drifting in was of no consequence."

McCarron has a chance of pulling off the rare Oaks-Derby double. He'll ride Came Home, the 5-1 second choice in today's Derby.

Sent off at 20-1 odds, Farda Amiga paid $42, $11.20 and $5.40.

Take Charge Lady returned $3.80 and $3, while Habibti was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $3.80 to show.

Farda Amiga was racing on dirt for just the second time in her career. She finished fourth in the Santa Anita Oaks on March 9, after running on the turf in her first four starts.

"She's an amazing filly," Lobo said. "I thought, 'Why not try the dirt?"'

Although she's a Kentucky-bred, Farda Amiga's name is Portuguese for "friendly silks." It's a combination of the owners' racing outfits - Old Friends, Inc., Winner Silk, Inc., and Jose De Camargo.

"I've been involved with a lot of ebullient celebrations, but these people came a long way to be here," McCarron said of the Brazilian contingent. "They were showing their enthusiasm."

Lobo formerly worked as an assistant to his father, Selmar Lobo, a top trainer in Brazil. The younger Lobo is based at Hollywood Park.

Farda Amiga was bumped lightly at the start by Habibti. She started her rally by going five-wide at the end of the backstretch and moved up to challenge leader Take Charge Lady at the quarter-mile pole.

Take Charge Lady, who won her three previous races this year, faced little pressure in leading most of the way.

Farda Amiga won $562,100, greatly boosting her meager earnings of $83,800.

The crowd of 101,923 was third-largest in Oaks' history and the fourth consecutive year in which attendance topped 100,000.

Also Friday, Spain won the Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap by 1 1/4 lengths for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Spain earned $207,204 to set a North American earnings record of $3,304,244 for fillies and mares.

She broke the old mark of $3,283,388 compiled by Serena's Song, another Lukas-trained filly who was voted into the national racing hall of fame this week.

"I am very happy to have trained both," Lukas said. "I have a soft spot for both of them."

Spain covered 1 1-16 miles in 1:43 4-5 and paid $8, $4 and $3.40 for her first victory in 15 months.