SAN SIMEON STAKES | PURSE: $100,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 3 | ABOUT 6 1/5 FURLONGS
Jean Everest, John O'Brien, Danny Valdez and Michelle Turpin's Chips All In ran down even-money favorite Obviously in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,250 San Simeon at Santa Anita to earn his first graded victory. With Tyler Baze aboard, the 2-1 second choice paid $6.60, $3.20 and $2.20 to take his first win in more than a year.
"I wasn't concerned about today at all. Not with the way he's been training; he's training lights out," Baze said after the race. "He's a real special horse and it's just a privilege to be on him. He's a really cool horse."
Sirroco Strike broke on top after Obviously started a step slow, but was easily passed as that one suddenly powered to the lead from the inside. Obviously proceeded to set swift splits of :21 2/5, :43 and 1:05 1/5 while tracked behind and to his outside by Sirocco Strike and Chips All In.
Those three raced almost in tandem rounding the turn before Sirocco Strike began fading in the lane. Obviously kept right on motoring, but the rest of the field was catching up by midstretch. Chips All In was best of all, though, inching past the dual Grade 2 victor to finish about 6 1/2 furlongs on the firm downhill turf in 1:11 1/5.
"You don't have to tell Tyler anything. He knows the horse. He gets on him every week," assistant trainer Ral Ayers remarked. "Obviously had to run hard to get up to the lead after not getting away, so we were worried about him. He's tough on the lead, but maybe he needed one. Who knows? We'll take what we can get."
"The meet's been great," Baze added. "My agent [Craig O'Bryan] has done a great job, and we work well together. We're just on to bigger and better things."
Baze was able to stay focused despite the fact a brush fire, encompassing 150 acres, burned through the San Gabriel Mountain foothills of Monrovia near his home,
"I don't think my home is in jeopardy," he said when asked about the blaze. "I know they have evacuated everyone out from that area but I just want to finish up, get home and get the dogs out so they're safe."
Obviously ran well in defeat in his first start since a third-place run behind Horse of the Year Wise Dan and Dubai World Cup hero Animal Kingdom in last November's Breeders' Cup Mile.
"He opened up and had a good trip," trainer Mike Mitchell stated about his charge. "He never really breaks real good. That's why we routed him, because he kind of leaves the gate a little slow, but I always make a joke with Jeff Mullins. I say, 'Did I fill the race for you or did you fill it for me?'
"It was a good horse race. I'm happy. He ran a good race. Six and a half [furlongs] probably isn't his game."
"That's what we thought he would do, go straight out to the front. He's coming off a long layoff so it was a perfect race for him, and it should set him up for the summer," noted Obviously's rider, Joe Talamo.
Chosen Miracle put in a nice late move to take third, with Drill edging out Sirocco Strike for fourth by a head. Koast trailed home in last after Ain't No Other was withdrawn.
Chips All In scored his fourth stakes win on Saturday, and now boasts a 13-7-3-2 mark to go along with $327,955 in lifetime earnings.
The bay son of North Light posted his first black-type victory when taking the Gold Rush Futurity as part of a three-race win streak that began his career as a juvenile for trainer Adam Kitchingman. He was transferred to Jeff Mullins' barn following that race and suffered his first loss next out when a head second in the Golden Nugget, but got back on the winning track to close out 2011 when trying turf for the first time in the Eddie Logan at Santa Anita.
Chips All In would making just one more start on a main track, with that coming as a well-beaten seventh in the Robert B. Lewis in February 2012, but has found his niche on the California grass. He captured the Pasadena one month later, just missed by a nose in the Alcatraz and was fourth by only 1 1/2 lengths in the Tsunami Slew before rounding out his sophomore campaign with close placings in the Oceanside and La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar.
The Kentucky-bred colt opened his four-year-old season with a nose second in the Joe Hernandez Handicap at Santa Anita in late February.
Bred by Adena Springs, Chips All In was a bargain $4,500 as a Keeneland September yearling. He is out of the dual stakes-winning Maria's Mon mare Maria's Mirage, who is a full sister to stakes heroine Cauy and a half-sibling to recent unbeaten stakes star Jan's Perfect Star.
This is the same female family as Grade 1 victor Journey at Sea, Grade 2 conqueror Advance Man and Grade 1-placed stakes diva Cool Ashlee, as well as multiple Grade 2-placed stakes scorers Gato Go Win and Diachrony.