05/04/2011 12:19PM

Hollywood Park: Baffert hopes to avoid speed duel with pair in allowance

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Barbara D. Livingston
Jaycito has resumed training and is targeting the Belmont Stakes.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A group of 3-year-olds who did not make it to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby have been on trainer Bob Baffert’s mind this week.

On Wednesday, Jaycito, who was taken out of consideration for the Kentucky Derby because of foot problems in late April, returned to racetrack training. He is a candidate for the Belmont Stakes on June 11, Baffert said.

The winner of the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes at Hollywood Park last October, Jaycito has made one start this year, finishing second to Premier Pegasus in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita in March.

“He should be ready for the Belmont,” Baffert said.

Last year, Baffert hoped that Coil and Smash would make it to Churchill Downs, but both were sidelined. They make their first starts of 2011 in an optional claimer over six furlongs at Hollywood Park on Friday. The eight-race program begins at 1 p.m. to accommodate the simulcast of the Kentucky Oaks from Churchill Downs.

Typical of many Baffert-trained runners, Coil and Smash have displayed quick workouts in recent weeks. Coil, who drew the rail in a field of six, worked six furlongs in 1:11.20 at Hollywood Park last Sunday.

Racing for the partnership of Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman, Coil beat maidens by 3 1/4 lengths in a six-furlong race in his second start last November at Hollywood Park. The maiden race was Coil’s first start for Baffert and the partnership, having previously raced for Glen Hill Farm and Tom Proctor.

Smash beat maidens in his debut in a five-furlong race at Hollywood Park last July, drawing off by 2 1/2 lengths. Owned by Kaleem Shah, Smash was expected to be a factor in the 2-year-old stakes at Del Mar last summer, but was injured.

“He had a setback when I got to Del Mar,” Baffert said Tuesday from Kentucky. “It’s taken a while to get him back. He’s been working well.”

Coil and Smash have drawn next to each other. Considering they both have speed, Baffert is hoping that a duel does not develop.

“They’re too fast, and I hope they don’t run each other in the ground,” he said. “I want to get a race into them. I wish they were drawn a little bit away from each other.”

Remarkably, five of the six entrants won their last starts. Runaway Wildcat, who has already made 11 starts, won a $32,000 claimer at Santa Anita on April 3, the day he was claimed by Ed Moger Jr. Runaway Wildcat is entered for an $80,000 claiming price Friday.

Lime Rock Revenge won a $50,000 claimer at Santa Anita on April 15, a week after Star Dance M D won a $75,000 claimer for maidens.

Metropolitan Man was second in an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields on April 2, losing to Ain’t No Other, who returned to win the Harry Henson Stakes at Hollywood Park on April 21.

◗ On Sunday at Hollywood Park, Baffert starts Uncle Sam in the $70,000 Alydar Stakes over 1 1/8 miles, which could lead to a start in the Belmont Stakes. Owned by Shah, Uncle Sam has won 2 of 3 starts. He won an optional claimer over a mile at Santa Anita on April 3, holding off Clarke Lane, another Alydar and Belmont hopeful.

◗ Game On Dude, who won the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap in March, is being pointed to the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9, Baffert said. Game On Dude was second in the $1 million Charles Town Classic last month, his most recent start.

◗ Misremembered, runner-up in the Oaklawn Handicap last month and winner of the 2010 Santa Anita Handicap, has joined Baffert’s Churchill Downs division.