Chips All In, back on his favored Santa Anita Park turf course, staved off the late-charging Boat Trip by a nose to capture the $101,750 Eddie D Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the opening day of the autumn meet Sept. 27 in Arcadia, Calif (VIDEO).
The 5-2 second favorite in a field of 12, hard-knocking Chips All In got a perfect tracking trip with jockey Julien Leparoux aboard to register his fourth win in five tries over the Santa Anita turf. He completed the about 6 1/2-furlong distance on the hillside course in a sharp 1:12 flat over firm ground.
Boat Trip, flying late on the outside for jockey Garrett Gomez, just missed an upset opportunity, while Unbridled's Note, shipping in from Churchill Downs to defend his 2012 Eddie D title, settled for third as a narrow 5-2 choice. Multiple graded stakes winner Caracortado, making his return to action after missing nearly 21 months with a a foot injury, was edged for third by a neck in a crowded finish.
Chips All In, who was shortening up after a pair of one-mile turf races at Del Mar this summer, made it consecutive grade III scores over the unique Santa Anita layout following his victory in the San Simeon Stakes in April. Jeff Mullins trains the winning 4-year-old son of North Light for the partnership of Jean Everest, John O'Brien, Danny Valdez, and Michelle Turpin.
"I think the two route races that he had under his belt prior to this helped a lot," Mullins said.
The Eddie D, named for retired Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye, is not a Breeders' Cup "Win & You're In" race for the $1 million Turf Sprint Nov. 2. Unbridled's Note used last year's race as a springboard to the BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, however, and wound up a lukewarm 9-2 favorite for trainer Steve Asmussen while finishing second.
Chips All In, a $4,500 Keeneland yearling purchase in 2010, is not currently nominated for the Breeders' Cup and would require a supplemental fee of $100,000 to become eligible.
"They're going to have to come up with a lot of money," Mullins said. "We'll see how he comes out of this, regroup and see what they want to do. You never know."
Chips All In was forwardly placed from the outset, laying just off pacesetter Rosengold and French import Snowday through an opening quarter mile of :21.73 and a half in :43.66. Chips All In ranged up three wide leaving the bend and battled Snowday, making his United States debut, through the homestretch before getting control past the furlong marker. He had to dig in late under urging from Leparoux with Unbridled's Note threatening for Corey Nakatani and Caracortado and Boat Trip closing with a rush as well, and the wire came just in time.
"He broke pretty good, and I tried to put him in the race," Leparoux said. "And then I just tried to be clear and not have any traffic. I put him where he was clear, and he put me there easy. I thought I felt someone coming on the outside, and he went on. He loves this track and loves this distance."
Boat Trip was half a length in front of Unbridled's Note, with Caracortado and Snow Day right there as well. Then came El Mirage King, Rock Me Baby, Et Tu Walker, Rosengold, Huntsville, Sirocco Strike, and Majestic City.
"(Boat Trip has) run down the hill before but when we hit the dirt he jumped a little and I lost ground," Gomez lamented. "I had to give him time to get back on his feet so I lost momentum and I think that cost me the race."
Bred in Kentucky by Adena Springs, Chips All In is out of the Maria's Mon mare Maria's Mirage, a multiple stakes winner. The bay colt improved his career record to 7-5-1 in 16 outings with earnings of $410,613.
Chips All In was coming off a runner-up finish in an allowance/optional claiming test at Del Mar Aug. 22. He has not finished off the board since being distanced in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) as a 3-year-old in February 2012.
Carrying top weight of 123 pounds, Chips All In paid $7.80, $4.80, and $3. Boat Trip, narrowly denied in his bid for a first graded stakes win for trainer Mike Pender, returned $7.40 and $4.60. The exacta was worth $52.50. Mike McCarty's Unbridled's Note, expected to return to the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, was $3.40 to show in his first start since finishing eighth in the Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) May 4.
Trainer Mike Machowsky was elated with the effort of Caracortado, making his first appearance since winning the Daytona Stakes (gr. IIIT) in January 2012 and tearing off an entire frog.
"He basically grew a whole new hoof. It's been a long, drawn-out process, but he ran great," Machowsky said. "He still has it. (In the) Breeders' Cup, they allow 14 to run and hopefully we're one of the 14."
Handsome Mike and Koast scratched.