With Alonso Quinonez aboard, Chips All In quickly gained command in the field of 10 with Tones in close pursuit and 2-1 favorite Midnight Crooner stalking in third, and that’s the way they finished in what turned out to be a “carousel race.”
The winning margin was a neck as the winner gamely withstood challenges by the runner-up, ridden by Eswan Flores. Midnight Crooner, with Corey Nakatani aboard, finished another length back in third.
The winning time was 1:34.56 after Chips All In was able to guide his pursuers through leisurely early fractions of 24.08, 48.17 and 1:11.66.
That’s Dangerous, who was the trailer into the far turn, appeared to take a bad step, fell and dropped jockey Victor Espinoza, whose condition was not immediately known.
As the third choice at 7-2, Chips All In paid $9.80, $5.20 and $3.60. The mutuels on Tones were $10.40 and $5.40. Midnight Crooner paid $3.40 to show.
Trained by Jeff Mullins for a partnership, Chips All In has won 5 of 7 starts including the Dec. 31 Eddie Logan Stakes at one mile on turf in an 11-1 upset. He missed by a head in another start with the sixth-place finish in Lewis at 1 1/16 miles on dirt being the only unsightly notation on his resume.
“He’s a freak on grass,” said Quinonez, “but I know what happened last time (in the Lewis). We were hung real wide going into the first turn, and I tried to save ground by pushing him down inside. But when I did, he cut himself behind. He was running okay down the backside, but I know it bothered him. Jeff (Mullins) thought he could be a Derby horse.”
Now 2-for-2 on turf, the Kentucky-bred son of Northern Light hiked his earnings to $193,600 with the winning purse of $43,800 from the Pasadena Stakes. Chips All In was purchased at sale for $4,500 as a yearling.
Former Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Eldaafer will be among eight entrants in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup at 1 ½ miles over Santa Anita’s main track, feature race of a 10-race program that begins at 12:30 p.m.