Pegram, Watson and Weitman's Coil rallied to the lead in midstretch and gamely withstood the late bid of stablemate Capital Account in Saturday's Grade 1, $250,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship, providing trainer Bob Baffert with a one-two finish in the six-furlong event formerly known as the Ancient Title. Winner of the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at nine furlongs last year, the versatile colt has redefined his image at age four, establishing himself as a top contender for the November 3 Breeders' Cup Sprint over the same Santa Anita track.
Martin Garcia, the chestnut's regular rider last season, regained the mount after being replaced by Rafael Bejarano in Coil's first two starts this year, an allowance/optional claiming win and runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien at Del Mar.
"It's a great opportunity to get this horse back and I did my job," Garcia said.
Amazombie, the reigning sprint champion and 2011 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, loomed prominently turning for home but wound up weakening to fourth as the 4-5 favorite.
"He (jockey Mike Smith) just said that he needed the race," Amazombie's trainer Bill Spawr said. "He said watch him next time (in the Breeders' Cup Sprint). He should be five lengths better."
Castletown sprinted to the fore after the break and led the way down the backstretch while being chased by the filly Reneesgotzip in second, establishing opening splits in :21 3/5 and :44 4/5. Amazombie was a few lengths back in third during the early stages, and Coil was another length back in fourth entering the far turn.
The front runners threw in the town turning for home as Amazombie made his move for the lead in upper stretch, but Coil was steadily advancing to his outside and accelerated to a half-length advantage with a furlong remaining. He surged clear momentarily in deep stretch, but Capital Account was steadily gaining on the far outside. Capital Account edged Coil by a half-length in the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien but could not catch his rival on Saturday, falling a head short on the wire.
Coil stopped the teletimer in 1:09 4/5 on the fast track and paid $17.20, $7.60 and $4 as the 7-1 fifth choice among seven runners.
Capital Account, who was also off at 7-1, finished nearly a length better than third-placer Jimmy Creed. It was another half-length back to Amazombie, who was exiting a convincing win in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby on July 29. Castletown, Camp Victor and Reneesgotzip completed the order of finish.
"The Bing Crosby might have been a little bit of an easier race on him than I thought," Smith said of Amazombie. "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 (Spawr) 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.
"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."
Coil broke his maiden in his second career outing in November 2011. The son of Point Given made a belated three-year-old debut, winning a six-furlong allowance/optional claiming race at Hollywood, and made his stakes debut a winning one next time out in the Grade 3 Affirmed at 1 1/16 miles. Following a second in the Grade 2 Swaps, Coil captured the aforementioned Haskell at Monmouth Park. He made only two more appearances last season, recording a subpar 10th in the Grade 1 Travers before a third in the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes, and did not make his 2012 bow until July 26.
With Saturday's $150,000 payday, Coil has now earned $1,029,360 from a 11-6-2-2 career line.
Bred in Florida by Glen Hill Farm, Coil is the second registered foal from the winning Theatrical mare Eversmile, a half-sister to Possibly Perfect, the champion turf mare of 1995 who captured six Grade 1 races and earned more than $1.3 million. Possibly Perfect is the dam of Grade 3 winner Promontory Gold. Eversmile is also a half-sister to English Group 3 victor Makhlab. Coil's third maternal dam is Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks heroine Sandy Blue and he hails from the female family of French Group 1 hero Miserden and Grade 1-winning millionaire Eddington.