By Dick Downey
Coil is back, and so is Martin Garcia. The winners of the 2011 Grade I Haskell Stakes scored for trainer Bob Baffert in the newly-named Santa Anita Sprint Championship with a strong, wide move down the stretch.
Most recently, Coil was second, beaten a tough half length by Capital Account as the 7-5 favorite in the Grade I Pat O’Brien. The 4-year-old Coil has an impressive resume that includes the win in last year’s Haskell. Although he amassed a bankroll of $755,200 in six 2011 starts, all but one of them routing, Coil has sprinted in his three starts this year -- and will continue to do so in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Coil ran seven, then three lengths off swift early fractions set by longshot Castletown -- :21.69 for a quarter-mile and :44.94 for the half -- with the 3-year-old filly Reneesgotzip in closest pursuit of the pacesetter. Amazombie and Mike Smith laid back in a nice pocket in third.
At the quarter-pole, Coil was tracking a length back of Amazombie, who made his move hitting the stretch. Amazombie struck the briefest of leads, but at the furlong marker it was Coil that had a half-length advantage over Amazombie. Coil's momentum continued, and he beat a fast-finishing Capital Account to the wire by a head. Baffert also trains Capital Account.
Jimmy Creed, who was a bit rank down the backstretch, righted himself before running strongly up the rail to take the third spot, beaten only three parts of a length for all of it. Amazombie was another half-length back in fourth. He was followed closely by Castletown, then it was another 5 3/4 lengths back to Camp Victory. Reneesgotzip faded badly to last in the field of seven.
Garcia's ride on Coil represents a return to Baffert's good graces for Garcia, who last rode Coil in the Grade I Goodwood (now the Awesome Again) at Santa Anita a year ago. By the time the son of Point Given returned to the races in July, Baffert and Garcia were on the outs. Fences have been mended now, and Garcia will have at least one other chance to ride for the trainer -- in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Coil is owned by longtime Baffert clients Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. He was bred in Florida by Glen Hill Farm.
Bob Baffert, trainer of Coil and Capital Account, via Twitter: "Coil in the Sprint."
Martin Garcia, winning jockey: “It’s a great opportunity to get this horse back, and I did my job.”
David Flores, Capital Account, second: “I always like the extra sixteenth, for him but I was trying my best to get this guy working early. For some reason I couldn’t save ground on the last turn, but I was attacking the horse I needed to, Coil. He was the horse to beat. I tried to stay as close as I possibly could to him, but he got away a little bit at the top of the stretch. My horse showed nice talent at the end. It was very close at the end, but I knew it would have taken a couple more jumps to beat the winner. I have to give great credit to my horse because when I asked him to go he was responding. Maybe next time I’ll have to go a little bit earlier.”
Richard Mandella, trainer of Jimmy Creed, third: "(Garrett Gomez) said he was a little scared of the dirt flying because he hadn’t had much experience on that. He’s been on synthetic tracks without much kickback. He said for a quarter mile down the backside, he was kind of looking at what all that was about, and then came on good. He had to wait a little bit, but he thinks he’s good enough for the Sprint.
“I’m going to look at the Sprint, there’s the seven-eighths Damascus Stakes for $100,000, there’s the (Dirt) Mile. I’m going to be looking at all three of them the next week and thinking about what to do.”
Mike Smith, aboard Amazombie, fourth: “The Bing Crosby might have been a little bit of an easier race on him than I thought. He only spurted the last eighth of a mile in that race and probably didn’t really get much out of it. I’m sure Bill didn’t have him screwed down exactly as tight as he wanted for this one. You want to certainly move forward, and this is the kind of race you’ll move forward on. At the top of the lane I could tell he was starting to get a little bit tired. He kicked on good until the eighth pole and then got really tired at that point.
"He came back great though. You’d certainly like to win, but with these types of horses you’re talking about the first two finishers probably being one of the favorites going to the Breeders’ Cup. It’s a tough race, and we knew it was going to be tough going in. In saying that, the important thing was to get a good race in him and move forward.”
Bill Spawr, trainer and co-owner, Amazombie: “(Mike Smith) just said that he needed the race. He said watch him next time. He should be five lengths better.”