Dual grade I winner Coil, soon to be a stallion, seems primed to go out on top in the $150,000 San Pasqual Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 5 at Santa Anita Park.
The 5-year-old son of Point Given , trained by Bob Baffert, worked five furlongs at Santa Anita in a sizzling :58 2/5 Dec. 29, swiftest of 102 drills at the distance that morning. He ran a half-mile in :46 4/5 a week earlier.
A day before his latest drill, it was announced that Coil would enter stud at Magali Farms near Santa Ynez, Calif., for a fee of $5,000.
Coil, to be ridden as usual by Martin Garcia, drew post 6 in the 1 1/16-mile San Pasqual against eight opponents, including three others from the Baffert barn.
Also in the field is the 120-pound highlight Ultimate Eagle, a grade I winner on grass. The main track event, part of a program that includes the $100,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds, is the seventh race on the Saturday card with an approximate post time of 3:36 p.m. PST.
The San Pasqual is a key prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), which is March 2.
Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, who reportedly plan to retain ownership, Coil won the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (gr. I), formerly the Ancient Title, in October prior to a disappointing seventh in the Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I). In his most recent start, the chestnut horse was a solid third behind Stay Thirsty and Groupie Doll in the Cigar Mile (gr. I) Nov. 24 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
As a sophomore in 2011, Coil won both the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at 1 1/8 miles and the Affirmed Handicap (gr. III). He enters the final race of his career with six wins and five placings from 13 starts with earnings of $1,064,360.
Also entered by Baffert in the San Pasqual are, Jaycito and Hoorayforhollywood, who start from post 1 and 2, respectively, as well as Bank the Eight.
Zayat Stables' Jaycito, winner of the Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) as a 2-year-old in 2010, has not lived up to the lofty expectations that followed that victory. But he is coming off a win in a tough allowance race Dec. 1 at Betfair Hollywood Park at the San Pasqual distance in which he earned a Beyer speed figure of 100 for the first time in his career. Julien Leparoux retains the mount on the 5-year-old son of Victory Gallop for the Hall of Fame conditioner.
Hoorayforhollywood, owned by George Krikorian, steps up in class following a third-place finish in the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Mile at Hoosier Park in his most recent start Oct. 6. Mercedes Stable's homebred Bank the Eight stretches out following a last-place finish in the Vernon O. Underwood (gr. III) at Hollywood Dec. 2.
Baffert has won the San Pasqual three times, but not since back-to-back victories with Wooden Phone and Congaree in 2002-03. He has tabbed Joe Talamo for the ride on Hoorayforhollywood, while Rafael Bejarano takes over on Bank the Eight.
Following a sophomore campaign in 2011 that included grass victories in the Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) and Hollywood Derby (gr. IT), B.J. Wright's Ultimate Eagle raced just three times last year. He captured the Strub Stakes (gr. II) over the Santa Anita main track 11 months ago. But after weakening badly in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) to finish 10th as the 2-1 favorite, the Michael Pender trainee went to the sidelines.
He has started just once since then, finishing second to Data Link after setting a pressured pace in the 1 1/16-mile Citation Handicap (gr. IIT) back on the turf at Hollywood Nov. 23. Martin Pedroza, who has ridden Ultimate Eagle to all five of his career wins, is back aboard the 5-year-old son of Mizzen Mast .
The talented John Scott, fourth against a stellar field in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) Nov. 3, makes his first start since then for trainer Carla Gaines and Harris Farms. The California homebred, seeking his first graded stakes victory, has been working well at Santa Anita for his return.
"He’s coming up to the race very well," Gaines said recently of the Bertrando offspring, never worse than fourth in 10 starts, including five victories.
Also in the field is Tres Borrachos, runner-up to Uh Oh Bango in the San Pasqual last year and most recently second to Jaycito in the 1 1/16-mile allowance at Hollywood Dec. 1. The 8-year-old has lost 12 straight since taking the San Diego Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar July 30, 2011.
$150,000 San Pasqual Stakes (gr. II, Race 7, 3:36 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Jaycito (KY), J R Leparoux, 118, B Baffert
2. Hoorayforhollywood (KY), J Talamo, 118, B Baffert
3. Tres Borrachos (KY), G K Gomez, 118, M F Jones
4. Ultimate Eagle (KY), M A Pedroza, 120, M Pender
5. John Scott (CA), V Espinoza, 118, C Gaines
6. Coil (FL), M Garcia, 118, B Baffert
7. Bank the Eight (KY), R Bejarano, 118, B Baffert
8. Key Decision (ARG), E A Maldonado, 118, A C Avila
9. Golden Itiz (KY), J Valdivia Jr., 118, R W Ellis