02/21/2013 3:02PM

Santa Anita: Chips All In fresh for Joe Hernandez

Benoit & Associates
Chips All In will sprint on turf for the first time in the $75,000 Joe Hernandez on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – By the end of last summer, Chips All In was a tired 3-year-old.

He was running well – second in a division of the Oceanside Stakes in July and third in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap in August – but trainer Jeff Mullins saw signs of fatigue.

“He’d been in training since they broke him,” Mullins said. “He was tailing off.”

Chips All In makes his first start since the La Jolla when he runs in the $75,000 Joe Hernandez Handicap over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on Saturday. Chips All In will be trying to win the fourth stakes of his career.

Mullins says that Chips All In will benefit from a race, but is capable of winning.

“He’s training well,” Mullins said on Thursday morning. “I wouldn’t call him 100 percent. We rushed his work schedule a little bit. I thought this would be a good race to start with. We want to get a race in him and see where we’re at with fitness.”

Chips All In has won 5 of 11 starts and $252,675. He won the Gold Rush Futurity over six furlongs at Arapahoe Park in Colorado in 2011, and two one-mile turf races – the Eddie Logan Stakes in 2011 and the Pasadena Stakes last March.

The Hernandez will be Chips All In’s first start in a turf sprint.

Chips All In, who will be ridden by Tyler Baze, is quick and may have the lead in the seven-runner Hernandez. He will be closely followed by Irish Art, who has won twice on this turf course, including the 2011 Uniformity Stakes, and Unbridled’s Note, a game second as the 9-2 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint here last November.

In the BC Turf Sprint, Unbridled’s Note closed from seventh, led in the stretch and finished second by a half-length to Mizdirection. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Unbridled’s Note was later third in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds over seven furlongs on Dec. 26.

“It’s a nice race to get him back going again,” said Scott Blasi, Asmussen’s assistant. “He was good in the Malibu. He’s pretty versatile.”