Hillside turf specialists Chips All In and Unbridled's Note head a competitive field of eight in the $100,000 Daytona Stakes (gr. IIIT) Dec. 28 at Santa Anita Park.
The Daytona is race 8 on the Saturday card with a 4 p.m. PST scheduled post.
Chips All In, the 124-pound high weight trained by Jeff Mullins, was a game nose winner of the Eddie D. Stakes (gr. IIIT) at 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill Sept. 27. Supplemented at a cost of $120,000 to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) in his subsequent start, the 4-year-old North Light colt was a disappointing ninth, beaten 3 3/4 lengths by champion Mizdirection.
In his most recent try, Chips All In was part of a three-way dead heat for second in the six-furlong turf Hollywood Turf Express Dec. 8. With two wins and a second from four hillside tries, Chips All In will have Gryder aboard once again as they break from post 2 for the ownership partnership of Jean Everest, John O'Brien, Danny Valdez, and Michelle Turpin.
Unbridled's Note took the same path to the BC Turf Sprint, finishing third in the Eddie D. beaten by half a length as the 5-2 pick. He then ran fourth in the Turf Sprint, beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Mizdirection in a race in which he was second a year earlier. The 4-year-old colt by Unbridled's Song then matched strides with Chips All, dead-heating for second as the even money favorite in the Hollywood Turf Express.
Corey Nakatani retains the mount on Unbridled’s Note, who has has amassed $576,683 in career earnings from an overall mark of 4-3-4 in a 15 starts for owner Mike McCarty.
Jerry Hollendorfer, who is enjoying the biggest year of his Hall of Fame career, will send out California-bred Ain't No Other, breaking from the outside with Rafael Bejarano. A 5-year-old Old Topper gelding bred by his owner, Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, Ain’t No Other won the Sensational Star Stakes for California-breds down the hillside Feb. 24. He was a close second as the 5-2 favorite in the California Flag Stakes at Santa Anita Oct. 19.
Grade III stakes winning Handsome Mike also rates an upset chance for owner Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O’Neill. Third in the Vernon O. Underwood (gr. III) on the Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park Nov. 28, Handsome Mike has a win from two starts down the hill.
Trainer Mike Machowsky’s El Commodore has been showing good speed at middle distances primarily on turf, and could be dangerous from the rail with Gary Stevens engaged to ride. The Daytona will be El Commodore’s first try down the hill. Machowsky won the 2012 Daytona with Caracortado.
Also on the Saturday program is the $75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes for 2-year-olds at one mile on the turf. Eight are entered, headed by Royal Banker, Craftsman, a group III winner in Ireland making his United States debut, and Glen Hill Farm's Enterprising.
$100,000 Daytona Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4 p.m.), 3 & Up, About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. El Commodore (KY), G L Stevens, 119, M Machowsky
2. Chips All In (KY), A T Gryder, 124, J Mullins
3. Next Speaker (KY), J Talamo, 117, R B Hess Jr.
4. Unbridled's Note (KY), C S Nakatani, 119, S M Asmussen
5. Handsome Mike (KY), M Gutierrez, 121, D F O'Neill
6. Gallant Son (KY), I D Enriquez, 119, F Lucarelli
7. Truest Legend (FL), B Blanc, 119, J Mullins
8. Ain't No Other (CA), R Bejarano, 119, J Hollendorfer