Coil earned his first stakes win since last year's Haskell Invitational (gr. I) and earned a spot in the XpressBet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) with his 7-1 upset by a head in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (gr. I) Oct. 6 (VIDEO).
Defending Eclipse Award sprint champion Amazombie, looking for a repeat win in the race, faded late to finish fourth as the 4-5 favorite.
Trainer Bob Baffert earned his first victory in the race, which was inaugurated in 1985 as the Ancient Title and underwent a name change this season. The Hall of Fame trainer had said beforehand that Coil and the runner-up, stablemate Capital Account, were prepping for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park. But he may be rethinking those plans.
Martin Garcia guided Coil to victory for owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman. The final time for the six furlongs was 1:09.89 on a fast track. Capital Account was a clear second over Jimmy Creed , who closed at the rail to edge Amazombie for third.
With the victory, Coil surpassed $1 million in career earnings.
The first two in the Sprint Championship finished in reverse of the way they ran in the Pat O'Brien Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar Aug. 26 when Capital Account defeated Coil by a half-length.
Baffert was not present for the race.
Coil is a 4-year-old son of Point Given out of the Theatrical mare Eversmile. He was bred in Florida by Glen Hill Farm.
The Santa Anita Sprint Championship is a Breeders' Cup Challenge event for the BC Sprint and assures the winner an expenses-paid start in the race.
Coil had made just two prior start this year, both at seven furlongs at Del Mar. He won an allowance/optional claimer July 26 in his first race since running third in the Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita last October. Then he turned in a game effort on the front end in the Pat O'Brien to just miss to his stablemate. He raced with blinkers for the first time since finishing second in the Swaps Stakes (gr. II) in July 2011.
Seven were entered in the Sprint Championship with a fast pace expected thanks to the presence of the swift filly Reneesgotzip. Instead, it was Castletown, busting from the gate at the rail, who forged a narrow advantage over Reneesgotzip, who broke from the far outside. Amazombie and Coil stalked a swift pace comfortably through quarter-mile fractions of :21.69 and :44.94. Rounding the turn Amazombie, advancing four wide, increased the pressure on the leaders with Coil right behind him.
Amazombie was a narrow leader in upper stretch but Coil, four wide in the stretch under right-handed urging from Garcia, took over approaching mid-stretch and inched away to a slight lead over Amazombie and Castletown, who kept fighting. Capital Account, racing in last to the quarter pole, was charging on the far outside for David Flores but had four to pass in the final furlong.
Capital Account was game to the finish but the wire came just in time for Coil to deny his stablemate, with Jimmy Creed and Garrett Gomez along for third, three-quarters of a length farther behind. Amazombie, nudged for the show spot by a half-length while carrying co-high weight of 124 pounds, was followed by Castletown, Camp Victory, and Reneesgotzip.
Garcia, who had not ridden Coil since last year's Goodwood, said, "It's a great opportunity to get this horse back and I did my job."
Flores reported that he was pushed wide on the turn and that may have cost hime the race.
"I tried to stay as close as I possibly could to (Coil) but he got away a little bit at the top of the stretch," Flores said. "(Capital Account) 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."
Mike Smith, the jockey on Amazombie, was not disappointed in the champ's effort.
"You want to certainly move forward, and this is the kind of race you'll move forward on," he said. "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."
Worse than third just once in 11 lifetime starts (a 10th in last year's grade I Travers), Coil earned his sixth win while boosting his earnings to $1,029,360.
Coli carried 119 pounds and paid $17.20, $7.60, and $4, keying the all-Baffert exacta of $76.80 with Capital Account, who returned $5.80 and $3.80. Jimmy Creed, the only 3-year-old in the field, paid $6.40.