Coastal, whose victory in the 1979 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) deprived Spectacular Bid of a Triple Crown sweep, died Sept. 29 at Mick Goss' Summerhill Stud in South Africa. America's oldest living classic winner, he was 29. The title now belongs to 1980 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Genuine Risk, and the title of oldest living Belmont winner goes to 1981 winner Summing.
Coastal went into the Belmont off a devastating 13-length triumph in the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont Park about two weeks before the big race. Owner William Haggin Perry felt so good about his colt's chances that he supplemented him for $20,000. Trainer David Whiteley shared Perry's belief.
"I thought he was the best horse, and we were going to win," he said from his Camden, S.C., home.
Coastal proved up to the task in a big way. Sent off the second choice at nearly 9-2 compared to Spectacular Bid's 1-5, Coastal slipped through on the inside under jockey Ruben Hernandez to catch Spectacular Bid in the stretch and win by 3 1/4 lengths over Golden Act, with Spectacular Bid third. Even the story about the safety pin found in Spectacular Bid's hoof before the race failed to dampen the enthusiasm surrounding the win.
From there, Coastal won his next two starts, the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) and Monmouth Invitational Handicap (gr. I), to extend his win streak to six before facing Spectacular Bid in the Marlboro Cup Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont in September. He was no match for the great champion and finished third.
Coastal then faced older superstar Affirmed in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont and finished second. In what would be his final start, he ran third behind Affirmed and Spectacular Bid in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I). He retired with eight wins from 14 starts and earnings of $493,929 from two years of racing.
Coastal, who was bred by the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm, entered stud at that Paris, Ky., nursery, and stood there until he was sent to South Africa in 1988. At Claiborne, he sired two-time California grade I winner Little Brianne; grade I winner Danger's Hour, who was a prominent turf runner in the mid-1980s; seven-time stakes winner Triple Wow, later the dam of Canadian Horse of the Year Alywow; and Foxy Deen, whose win in the 1984 Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) paid a Keeneland record $222.60.
A son of Majestic Prince, Coastal was produced from the Buckpasser mare Alluvial, also the dam of two-time champion Slew o' Gold.
While in South Africa, Coastal became an important broodmare sire. He was buried at Summerhill and a plaque honors his accomplishments.
Genuine Risk resides at Bertram and Diana Firestone's Newstead Farm in Virginia, and Summing is pensioned at Dinesh Maniar's Getaway Farms near Romoland, Calif.