Photo: Benoit Photography
Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Daytona Stakes has attracted a competitive field of eight 3-year-olds and up, including hillside turf course specialists Chips All In
and Unbridled’s Note
On the heels of a game nose win in the Grade III Eddie D. Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs down the hill Sept. 27, Chips All In was supplemented at a cost of $120,000 to the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in his subsequent start, running a disappointing ninth, beaten 3 ¾ 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 under Aaron Gryder on Dec. 8. Trained by Jeff Mullins, 4-year-old Chips All In has two wins and a second from four hillside tries. He’s owned by Everest, O’Brien, Valdez and partners.
Third, beaten a half length as the 5-2 favorite in the Eddie D. Stakes Sept. 27, the Steve Asmussen-trained Unbridled’s Note ran a huge fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Mizdirection. 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 Dec. 8.
Ridden by Corey Nakatani in his last nine starts, Unbridled’s Note has two wins, a second and a third from five tries down the hill. Owned by Mike McCarty, Unbridled’s Note has amassed $576,683 in career earnings from an overall mark of 15-4-3-4.
Jerry Hollendorfer, who is enjoying the biggest year of his Hall of Fame career, will send out California-bred Ain’t No Other
, who will break from the outside with Rafael Bejarano. A 5-year-old Old Topper gelding bred by his owner, Tommy Town Thoroughbreds LLC, Ain’t No Other won the statebred Sensational Star Stakes down the hillside on Feb. 24, and was a close second as the 5-2 favorite in the 6 ½ furlong turf California Flag Stakes at Santa Anita Oct. 19.
Well beaten at 7-5 in the Oakland Stakes going six furlongs on synthetic Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields Nov. 16, Ain’t No Other faces a tall order in the Grade III Daytona, but his career record of 7-1-2-1 down the hill offers encouragement, as does the outside post and the presence of Rafael Bejarano.
Grade III stakes winning Handsome Mike
also rates an upset chance for owner Reddam Racing LLC and trainer Doug O’Neill. Third in the Grade III Vernon O. Underwood at 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. A 6-year-old gelding by El Prado, El Commodore is owned by Arbitrage Stables or Gallegos or Kagele Brothers, Inc. He’s been a consistent check-getter this year, with a win, three seconds and a third from 10 starts. Saturday’s Daytona will be El Commodore’s first try down the hill.
The complete field for the Daytona Stakes, to be run as Saturday’s eighth race, with jockeys and weights in post position order: El Commodore, Gary Stevens, 119; Chips All In, Aaron Gryder, 124; Next Speaker, Joe Talamo, 117; Unbridled’s Note, Corey Nakatani, 119; Handsome Mike, Mario Gutierrez, 121; Gallant Son, Isaias Enriquez, 119; Truest Legend, Brice Blanc, 119, and Ain’t No Other, Rafael Bejarano, 119.