07/27/2012 4:08PM

Del Mar notes: Coil pointing for Pat O'Brien or Forego after sharp return win

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Tom Keyser
Coil could return to stakes competition in the Pat O'Brien or the Forego.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Coil, the winner of the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in 2011, may start in a major stakes around one turn next month after a successful return to racing at Del Mar on Thursday.

Making his first start since October, Coil closed from fourth in a field of eight to win an optional claimer over seven furlongs by a length with minimal urging from jockey Rafael Bejarano. Trained by Bob Baffert for Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, Coil ($3.80) was timed in 1:22.39.

“He really came running,” Baffert said. “I’m not sure what I’ll do with him yet. I could run him in the Pat O’Brien or the Forego.”

The $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes is run over seven furlongs here on Aug. 26. The $500,000 Forego Stakes is run over seven furlongs at Saratoga on Sept. 1.

Coil has won 5 of 9 starts and $829,360. A 4-year-old colt by Point Given, Coil won two stakes last year and was third against older horses in the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita last fall. He did not start in the Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill Downs last fall.

Baffert said that Coil was plagued by “minor issues” that kept him out of serious training until late spring. Coil had one three-furlong workout in April and worked steadily from early June leading up to Thursday’s race.

“When he started back, he had another issue,” Baffert said. “Hopefully, that’s all behind him.”

Coil beat a strong field. Runner-up Mensa Heat won two restricted stakes last year. Great Warrior, who finished third, won the 2011 Pomona Derby. Fourth-place finisher Private Zone was a Group 1 winner in Panama last year. Thursday’s race was his U.S. debut.

“That race should have been a stakes,” Baffert said.

McCauleys put the money up

The California debut of Law Dog in Wednesday’s $100,000 Graduation Stakes is part of an expensive venture for owner Ron McCauley, and his son, trainer Tevis McCauley.

They are planning to pay $25,000 to supplement Law Dog to the Graduation Stakes, a fee that will make him eligible to the Golden State Series of stakes for California-bred or California-sired runners for the rest of his career.

The Golden State Series was launched earlier this year as a series of stakes for California-breds of all ages. The bulk of the prize money is dedicated to 2- and 3-year-olds.

Law Dog has 1 win in 3 starts, a maiden race over five furlongs on turf at Indiana Downs on July 3. A Kentucky-bred colt bred by Ron McCauley, Law Dog is eligible for the Graduation and the Golden State Series because his sire, Unusual Heat, is based in California.

There is no shortage of confidence from the trainer that Law Dog can be a factor in the Graudation.

“He should win,” said Tevis McCauley, 28. “I hate to say it like that.

“We want to run here and in the I’m Smokin.”

The $150,000 I’m Smokin Stakes is run over six furlongs on Sept. 3 as part of the Golden State Series. Later this year, the series for 2-year-olds includes $250,000 California Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Oct. 13, the $200,000 King Glorious Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park in early December and the $300,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes at Santa Anita in late December.

“Hopefully, we’ll recoup most of our money by the end of the meeting,” Tevis McCauley said.

◗ Bejarano had his best day of the meeting on Thursday, winning four races.

He won the first with Ambitoness ($4), the fifth with Maker or Breaker ($5.40) and the late double with Coil and Midnight Con ($6.80). All of his winners were favored.

Through Thursday, the seventh day of the 37-day meeting, Bejarano was tied with Garrett Gomez for the lead in the jockey standings, with 13 wins.

Doug O’Neill leads all trainers with seven wins, two more than Peter Miller.