06/09/2002 11:00PM

Coa remains fearless after two nasty falls


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Two spills in nine days.

To say that Eibar Coa is fortunate to come out of the two accidents relatively unscathed would be an understatement. Coa has been involved in two scary falls - at Monmouth on May 30 and at Belmont last Saturday. In both spills, the other rider involved was injured.

So how does Coa, or any jockey for that matter, get back on a horse right after coming within inches of seriously injuring himself?

"It's part of your job," Coa said Sunday. "If you're fine, you have to get up and try again."

Coa, last year's leading rider here and the favorite to do so once again this summer, said that a younger rider may be fazed by a fall, but veteran jockeys become used to the concept and are unfazed by it. But his spill Saturday at Belmont surely stunned viewers.

In the fourth race, the WNBC Stakes, Imadeed, ridden by John Velazquez, broke down and Coa's mount, Pleasant County, tripped over the fallen horse. Coa was hurled forward off his mount and the filly fell on top of him. The scene looked horrible as Pleasant County was kicking and flailing with Coa underneath her. Coa said his goggles were covered in dirt and he couldn't see what was going on. Somehow, Coa rolled out underneath Pleasant County and escaped serious injury.

Coa was kicked in the shoulder by his horse and he took off the rest of his mounts because of shoulder pain and to get precautionary X-rays taken. The X-rays were negative and Coa came back to ride the following day at Monmouth.

"I didn't plan on riding," Coa said Sunday. "But the doctor gave me some pills that helped a lot and I feel much better."

But despite being extremely fortunate to escape injury, the spill was not without its costs for Coa. His main mount on the Belmont Stakes card, the reason he went there to ride, was the Mark Hennig-trained Gygistar in the Grade 2 Riva Ridge Stakes. After the spill, Coa was unable to ride Gygistar, who won the race convincingly with Pat Day aboard.

Coa said he may have been well enough to keep the mount, but he did not feel it was right to ride the horse if he wasn't 100 percent. Coa rode Gygistar to victory in the Hallandale Beach Handicap at Gulfstream Park in April.

"Gygistar was the best horse I've had this year," he said. "I'm happy the horse won. Of course I feel bad I couldn't ride him. But I didn't want to cost him a better finish because I was injured. I'm just glad for Mark and hopefully I can get the mount on him next time."

Coa's first spill of the summer occurred in the seventh race on Thursday, May 30. That spill occurred when Coa's mount, Mato, took a spill and he was thrown from the horse. Joe Bravo swerved his mount to avoid Coa and the fallen horse, but it caused Bravo to fall from his mount, Oh My Pretty Halo. Coa was unscathed but Bravo suffered a broken left wrist that ended his Monmouth meet prematurely.

Promising filly's debut delayed

Much buzz surrounded the 2-year-old filly Sunrise Slew when she was set to make her debut in the meet's first juvenile race on May 30. Sunrise Slew, trained by Jason Servis, is part of one of the last crops of Seattle Slew, and her mare, Selling Sunshine, has had decent success with her foals.

Sunrise Slew, who had impressed in her morning workouts, was scratched from the race because of an infection.

The buzz is still present though, as Servis said Sunrise Slew, the best 2-year-old of six in his barn, should be ready to make her debut by the end of June. There is a juvenile filly race in the condition book for June 22.

"I lost about a week of training with her," said Servis.

Servis trains his 2-year-olds to have high stamina, as he personally gallops them long distances to build up their endurance. He said Sunrise Slew has shown him great ability in the mornings, as she fails to get tired from the long workouts. Servis is eagerly anticipating her first start.

"We're expecting big things from her," he said. "She is bred to run long but she is still a very fast filly. She has a lot of class."

Intriguing South Americans

Two South American imports offer interesting betting prospects in the Wednesday feature, an entry-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Both Slew Marshal, an Argentina-bred 4-year-old, and Super Highway, a Brazilian-bred 4-year-old, have made one turf start in the country.

Slew Marshal had one win on the turf in two grass starts in Argentina. He ran evenly in a dirt allowance May 19 at Monmouth. He will run with first-time Lasix for trainer Edmond Gaudet.

Super Highway made only one start in Brazil, winning a maiden turf race in March 2001. His first U.S. start was a solid fifth-place finish in an entry-level turf allowance at Tampa Bay six weeks ago. Trainer Dennis Manning is very good with horses making their first start of the Monmouth meet and off a one- to two- month layoff.