02/02/2012 4:56PM

Brad Free: Chips All In sweetens the pot in Robert Lewis

Shigeki Kikkawa
Chips All In is a multi-surface specialist who should get a perfect trip.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The notebook fills up quickly in winter at Santa Anita, with stuff like this:

◗ Liaison and Rousing Sermon meet again Saturday in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis, but it is more than a two-horse race thanks to Chips All In. A multi-surface specialist (wins on dirt, turf and synthetic) the 4-for-5 colt figures for a perfect trip racing second or third.

“The little horse doesn’t make mistakes,” trainer Jeff Mullins said. “If someone screws up, he’s going to be there to get the money.” What makes Mullins such an expert with Santa Anita 3-year-olds? The names Buddy Gil, Castledale, and Buzzards Bay might ring a bell. They were Mullins-trained winners of the Santa Anita Derby 2003, ’04 and ’05.

◗ If the advertised Derby futures price of 60-1 is still available for Fed Biz, it would be mighty tempting. Sired by Giant’s Causeway, Fed Biz scored a dazzling maiden win Dec. 30 and looks like the real deal for Bob Baffert. Fed Biz reportedly will start again soon.

◗ Which horse will lose first: Australia-based Black Caviar (17 straight) or England-based Frankel (nine straight)? English bookmaking firm William Hill lists Black Caviar 4-6 and Frankel 2-1 to lose first. A wager both remain unbeaten this year pays 6-1.

◗ Speaking of Las Vegas futures, my big play last year was Clubhouse Ride at more than 100-1. He did not make the race, but can still be a top older horse. He returns Saturday in the Grade 2 Strub, his first start in a year. It’s a crazy comeback spot, but he will finish.

◗ Read an interesting stat the other day – four of the last five Kentucky Derby winners did not make their first start as a 3-year-old until March. They include Animal Kingdom (March 3), Super Saver (March 13), Big Brown (March 5) and Street Sense (March 17).

◗ Rousing Sermon is not the only Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Derby prospect. Longview Drive, 3 for 6 and a close third in the Grade 3 Sham on Jan. 7, worked five furlongs Wednesday and is headed out of town for the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate on Feb. 18, or the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 20.

◗ Does “blinkers on” make any difference? When Hollendorfer put blinkers on Longview Drive, his Beyer Speed Figure improved from 73 to 97. It is something to consider Saturday when Hollendorfer adds blinkers to Strub longshot Indian Winter.

◗ Want to wager against Game On Dude in his low-odds comeback Sunday? Good luck with that. Bob Baffert rarely starts “short” horses in big races, and yes, the Grade 2 San Antonio is a big race for the “Dude,” even if it is only a comeback prep for the lone speed.

◗ The fillies Eden’s Moon, Princess Arabella, and Reneesgotzip, and the colts Midnight Transfer and Fed Biz, are the potential 3-year-old stars of winter at Santa Anita. But here we are in February, and the quintet has combined to win zero stakes around two turns.

◗ Perusing nominations for the Grade 2 Hutcheson for Saturday, Feb. 11 and wonder – is there a faster 3-year-old sprinter at Gulfstream Park than Thunder Moccasin? The Todd Pletcher-trained son of A.P. Warrior earned a 97 Beyer Figure in his Dec. 24 debut crusher.

◗ Speaking of Pletcher 3-year-olds, his roster continues to expand. E Z Effort, second with trouble in a Santa Anita sprint for California-bred maidens Jan. 7, was sold privately and early this week was en route to Florida. Meanwhile, E Z Effort’s half-brother Uh Oh Bango seeks his second straight graded stakes Sunday in the Grade 2 San Antonio.

◗ Quick, can you name the country’s only 3-year-old filly who has won all three starts by a combined 20 lengths? She is nominated to the Dearly Precious Stakes at Aqueduct next Saturday, Feb. 11. It will take something unforeseen for Agave Kiss to get beat.

◗ Ultimate Eagle finally tries dirt Saturday in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes. A turf horse, Ultimate Eagle trains super on dirt, which may or may not mean a darn thing. Even trainer Mike Pender admits. “It’s the X factor – can he handle the dirt? Or can’t he?

◗ One decade later, Ultimate Eagle will try to emulate his sire, Mizzen Mast. Ten years ago (Feb 2, 2002) at Santa Anita, Mizzen Mast crushed the Strub by four lengths with a 119 Beyer Figure. He never ran again.

◗ After starting the winter meet 2 for 66, normalcy has returned for Santa Anita jockey Joe Talamo. He is 11 for 56 since the middle of January, a well-done “comeback” by the likeable Cajun.

◗ Speaking of jockey stats, this one is weird. Joel Rosario entered the week leading the standings with 25 wins from 151 mounts. But on turf, Rosario is a mere 3 for 49.

◗ His nickname is “Big Bird,” and he is expected to win race 10 Saturday. Trainer Carla Gaines said American Blend “reminds us of that character” on Sesame Street. American Blend’s pedigree should be familiar, his dam Blending Element has produced four stakes winners – Tiz Elemental, Excessive Blend, Tiz a Blend, and Holladay Road. Stay tuned.

◗ Nearly everything about the season premiere of the HBO series “Luck” was terrific. But you had to cringe at the stereotypical depiction of horseplayers. The group that won a $2 million pick six in the first episode included an oxygen-sucking wheelchair-bound degenerate, another who tries to borrow money from a security guard/shylock to make the bet; another was a goof who did not know which horse to cheer for. Come on Hollywood, you can do better than that. The second episode of Luck airs Sunday at 9 p.m.