Jeff Mullins-trained Chips All In was a close-up second, edged near the wire by Bob Baffert’s Midnight Crooner, in the first division of the Oceanside Stakes on the Opening Day of the meeting, July 18.
There’ll be no rematch in Saturday’s Grade II $150,000 La Jolla Handicap, the second in the three-race stakes series for three-year-old males at the meeting. Midnight Crooner is being saved for the series finale, the $300,000 Grade II Del Mar Derby on Sunday, September 2.
My Best Brother led seven rivals throughout under Martin Garcia in the Oceanside, winning by a half-length in 1:34.39 for one mile on turf. Chips All In attended a slightly slower pace facing six rivals in his division, took the lead entering the stretch and was overtaken late as Midnight Crooner won in 1:34.74.
“I thought Julio’s horse was probably in the stronger half,” Mullins said. “I thought my horse ran well. But I didn’t like to see him hooked up on the lead (early in the race).”
A Kentucky-bred son of North Lite, Chips All In has five wins and three seconds in 10 lifetime starts and has compiled earnings of $234,675. A winner of three ungraded stakes, Chips All In was routed by eventual Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another in his only graded stakes try, the Grade II Robert Lewis at Santa Anita in February.
“He’s been training since he was a year and a half old,” Mullins said. “We’ve pretty much kept him out of graded races until now. We’re going to give him one try at a graded race and see what happens. Then we’ll see about giving him some time off.”
Chips All In drew next to the outside post in a field that was reduced to four on Friday by the scratch of Facoltoso. Chips All In will break from just inside My Best Brother. Garrett Gomez will be aboard Chips All In for the first time. Martin Garcia has the mount on My Best Brother.
“I don’t think post position is going to matter,” Mullins said. “He’s (My Best Brother) going to the front and it will be up to Garrett to decide what to do.”
TVG PACIFIC CLASSIC CANDIDATE SUGGESTIVE BOY WORKS
One day after Interaction worked five furlongs in 1:03.00 on turf, Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally sent the second of his two TVG Pacific Classic candidates, Suggestive Boy, out to test the Polytrack main surface Friday morning.
The result was six furlongs in 1:12.80 under Joe Talamo which was pronounced encouraging by all concerned.
“He went over the track well, just skipped over it,” McAnally said. “Joe jumped off and said ‘He’s the horse to beat, not (Bob) Baffert’s.’ ”
Baffert, McAnally’s fellow Hall of Fame member, is preparing Hollywood Gold Cup winner Game On Dude and two-time Classic champion Richard’s Kid for the $1 million race and has other candidates as well.
Comments from the track clockers’ booth were that Suggestive Boy finished “in full rhythm and stride and laying it down the right way.”
MABEE MAY BE RACE AVILA MARE NEEDS
A year ago, trainer A.C. Avila brought Go Forth North into the John C. Mabee Stakes off an eight-month layoff. And considering the circumstances, the daughter of North Light ran a creditable race, finishing fifth , beaten only 1 ½ lengths by Cozie Rosie in the Grade II, $250,000 event.
On Sunday, it’s Mabee time again. Go Forth North is entered again. And …
“She’s coming off a layoff again,” Avila pointed out Friday morning. “I hope everything goes good for her, but it looks like she needs the race.”
Go Forth North followed up the 2011 Mabee with a third-place effort three weeks later in the Grade II Palomar . In the aftermath of that race, however, Go Forth North was found to have a shin problem which required surgery that resulted in a seven-month racing hiatus. Returning in April, Go Forth North took third in the American Beauty at Santa Anita and was sixth of eight in the Grade III Wilshire Handicap at Hollywood Park before being sidelined for further treatments.
When Go Forth North carries the colors of owners L-Bo Racing, Pyle and Summer of Fun Stable, to the post in the Mabee it will have been 105 days between starts.
“She’s doing good, but you never know,” Avila said. “She acts like she feels good, she’s in good health, but maybe a little overweight. Hopefully, we’ll get this race in and it will help her for the next one, the Yellow Ribbon.”
The Yellow Ribbon (Grade II $250,000, Monday, September 3) is the new name for the Palomar.
MANDELLA SECONDS MOTION OF BACK-TO-BACK CUPS AT SANTA ANITA
The last time the Breeders’ Cup World Championship races were held on dirt at Santa Anita was a pretty good day for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.
On October 25, 2003, Mandella won four of the eight $1 million-and-up races. The winners were Halfbridled (Juvenile Fillies, Julie Krone up), Juvenile (Action This Day, David Flores), Turf (Johar, dead-heat with High Chaparral, Alex Solis) and Classic (Pleasantly Perfect, Solis).
So Mandella’s reaction to Thursday’s announcement that the event would be held at Santa Anita not just this year (November 2-3) but in 2013 as well was predictable.
“It’s no secret I’ve had some very good days when it’s there, so I’m happy to see it,” Mandella said Friday morning at his Barn X office.
Mandella went 0-for-3 with Breeders’ Cup starters when the event was held on the Pro-Ride synthetic surface at Santa Anita in 2008 and 2009. The main track at the Arcadia racing emporium has since been converted to dirt. And while Mandella has no delusions of anything like 2003, he’s glad to have the Breeders’ Cup at his home base.
“None of my horses (in 2003) had to win, they were all a pretty good price, but they were all doing well,” Mandella recalled. “We only had a barn of 38 horses and four of them won. Believe me, it was just a stroke of luck because I’ve proven over and over again I’m not that smart.”
The situation in the Mandella stable this summer, and by extension for the Breeders’ Cup, is quite different.
“I’ve got some 2-year-olds that are going to pop up and we’re hoping to take a shot at something,” Mandella said. “We’re out of older horses for the first time in 30-some years. But we’ve brought in more 2-year-olds earlier than ever and we’ve got some nice ones that we’re kind of excited about.”
Mandella nominated nine horses to the Del Mar Futurity and 14 to the Debutante. Of Mandella’s four wins during the meeting three were counted by 3-year-olds and the other by 2-year-old Beholder.
CLOSERS – On his Twitter account, The Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman tweets that Take Control will be given 60 days rest by trainer Bob Baffert and is therefore out of consideration for the Pacific Classic. The 5-year-old, who has had chronic shin problems, has run only three times in his career … Blood tests showed TVG Pacific Classic candidate Where’s Sterling, who ran a slight temperature after shipping in from Florida last Sunday, is back to normal. The 5-year-old son of Northern Afleet, trained by Luis Ramirez for owner Frank Calabrese, walked under tack Friday and is scheduled to make his first gallop over Del Mar’s Polytrack on Saturday … Ship And Win bonus-eligible horses on today’s card include: Winds of Dubai (1st, Paul Aguirre, trainer); Nechez Dawn* (7th, Jeff Bonde); Fit and Awesome (8th, Cody Autrey). * Nechez Dawn eligible for $1,000 shipping stipend but, as stakes entrant, not 25 percent purse bonus … Venerable trainer Bruce Headley, 78, has been hanging out at the home near Del Mar he’s had for the last 12 years and attending the races daily while his family operates the Hollywood Park-based stable this summer. Headley, whose 14 Del Mar stakes victories include Bing Crosby scores with Son of a Pistol (1998), Kona Gold (2000, 2001) and Street Boss (2008), has a collection of boulders from around the world as part of the landscaping at his local residence .
Trakus Facts of the Day for Thursday, August 9
Thursday’s second race exhibited the power of ground loss as Roses For Joni led almost every step of the journey, holding off Starship Flare, who races second, but wide, for the full one-mile trip around the grass. Three wide on both turns, Starship Flare lost by only a head, but traveled 32 feet more than Roses For Joni. 32 feet equates to approximately 3 ¾ lengths of extra ground.