Coil appears to be the latest top-notch 3-year-old in the barn of trainer Bob Baffert after the son of Point Given passed his initial route test in the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood Park June 11 (VIDEO).
Ridden by Martin Garcia, the 9-10 favorite pulled his way along the inside and went for an early bid, putting his head in front of Baffert stablemate Awesome Patriot on the final turn and taking command in the lane. Under urging from Garcia, Coil opened a big advantage at mid-stretch. He held off a willing Runflatout by a measured one length while completing the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:42.88 on Cushion Track.
"My plan was to take him a little bit back to see if he could relax, and he relaxed, but it was so slow and he has such a long stride that I didn't want to fight him," Garcia said of the early move. "I saw a big hole open on the backstretch so I just let him go. But he was doing everything on his own. When I got to the top of the stretch I asked him and he just took off. When he was by himself, he started looking around, like he doesn't know what to do. At the wire, he just put on the brakes. He's a really nice horse."
Making his stakes debut in the Affirmed, Coil began the year with a sharp optional claiming allowance victory May 6 at Hollywood, completing six furlongs in 1:09.16. Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, Coil broke his maiden at Hollywood in his second start last November.
"I was pretty impressed today with him, what he did and the way he did it," said Baffert, who won the 2006 Affirmed with Point Determined, another son of Point Given. "He's still learning how to run. I was actually going to run him seven furlongs today at Belmont (the grade II Woody Stephens), but I changed my mind. I wanted to run him two turns to see how he'd handle it.
"I don't know what's next yet," Baffert added. "We could either run in the Dwyer (gr. II), the Swaps (gr. II) or the Haskell. But the Haskell's the main goal."
Coil has won three of four races in his career with earnings of $118,560. Glen Hill Farm bred the chestnut colt in Florida. He is out of Eversmile, by Theatrical.
Runflatout, giving a good performance in his second two-turn try for trainer John Sadler, finished four lengths clear in second with Victor Espinoza aboard. Spud Spivens, ridden by Alonso Quinonez, was third, followed by Akkadian, Awesome Patriot and Northern Indy.
"It was a good race for him," Sadler said. "He rated nice in third and ran a good second. He didn't have an excuse, the winner was a little better today, but I thought he ran really well."
Awesome Patriot, the 119-pound top weight, went to the lead soon after the start for Rafael Bejarano and clipped off an opening quarter-mile in :24.17 and the half in a moderate :48.18. The six-furlong split was 1:11.60.
"I thought (Awesome Patriot) would put up more of a fight, but he got a little hot going to the gate," Baffert said.
Coil, carrying 116 pounds, paid $3.80, $2.80 and $2.40. Runflatout, second in the seven-furlong Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes (gr. III) last time, returned $4.20 and $3.40 and completed a $12.60 exacta. Spud Spiven paid $3.60 to show.