12/29/2006 12:00AM

Coa gets 300th win on NYRA circuit


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Eibar Coa joined a select group of riders Friday, when he recorded his 300th win of the year on the New York Racing Association circuit.

Coa became just the fourth rider to accomplish the feat, joining Angel Cordero and Mike Smith - who both did it twice - and Steve Cauthen, who set the NYRA single-season record for wins with 433 in 1977. Coa's 300th victory came aboard Significant Other in Friday's fourth race, and his 301st and 302nd wins came later on the card, aboard Sir Tyler T and Spooky Mulder.

Smith was the last jockey to top the 300-win plateau, recording 313 in 1993. He also won 330 races in 1991. Cordero won 340 races in 1982 and 309 in 1983.

"For sure I'm very happy," Coa said. "I don't think it was something I had in my mind at the beginning of the year. I just wanted to do the best I could, but I knew in the last month that when I got to know I was close to 300 it was something that was going to be very special and I was just trying to get there.

"It's an honor just to be together with Cordero, Mike Smith, and Cauthen," Coa said. "Everybody knows it's not something that is easy to do. Hopefully, I will do it again. I'm going to try for sure."

Coa, who had twice come to New York only to return to Florida, was the leading rider at Aqueduct's 2005-06 winter meet, the 2006 spring and fall meets, and the Belmont fall meet.

"Since last year, when I've been working with my new agent, Matt Muzikar, things have turned out much better," Coa said. "We make a perfect team. We just get along so good, and everybody likes us together. I believe that was the key there."

Coa will be the runaway leader in wins among New York jockeys in 2006, and Gary Contessa will be the runaway leader among trainers. He notched his 150th victory in Friday's opener.

Silver Rainbow gave Contessa his 150th victory and also helped Winning Move Stable clinch the owners' title with 42 wins. Maggi Moss, who won the sixth with Sir Tyler T, finished with 40 wins. Moss did not have any horses entered for the final two days of racing.

Sir Whimsey preps for Count Fleet

While Johannesburg Star will be the headliner in next Saturday's Count Fleet Stakes, one horse who has beaten him will be in the starting gate for the Count Fleet, New York's first stakes for 3-year-olds in 2007.

Sir Whimsey, who beat Johannesburg Star by 1 3/4 lengths in a Nov. 18 maiden race, worked five furlongs in 1:00.44 Friday morning over Belmont Park's training track. It was the best of 19 moves at the distance.

After two poor starts to begin his career, Sir Whimsey has displayed signs of life in his last two races. In that Nov. 18 race, Sir Whimsey made a huge early move to move into a stalking position behind Johanessburg Star. Sir Whimsey went past Johannesburg Star entering the far turn, came back on that rival after Johannesburg Star poked a head in front in midstretch, then came back on Perfect Vow after that horse went past him in deep stretch.

"He made two moves in that race," trainer Michael Miceli said. "He made a little move and then he sat for a while, then he went again. I'm expecting him to run well."

Johannesburg Star came out of that Nov. 18 race to win his maiden by 9 1/2 lengths, earning a 102 Beyer Speed Figure.

Miceli was one of three offspring of Jump Start that he bought for a new client, Turtle Bird Stable. Miceli said he remembered watching Jump Start win the 2001 Saratoga Special and thinking he didn't look like a sprinter. A son of A.P. Indy, Jump Start was trained by D. Wayne Lukas.

"He was a big horse - I didn't picture him being a sprinter," Miceli said. "I thought he'd be better going longer and he finished second to Officer in the Champagne, so he looked like he had great talent, that horse. One time I was talking to Lukas and he was telling me about this horse and that he thought he'd make a good a sire, so I kept an eyeball out for him."

In his most recent start, Sir Whimsey finished second to Beliveinmenow, a repeat winner who got loose on the lead and who is also nominated to the Count Fleet.

"He ran a good race that day," Miceli said of Sir Whimsey. "The winner got loose on the lead and speed was real good that day. He closed and wound up second and he's been training good in the interim. He breezed well this morning and hopefully he should run a decent race."