07/07/2011 2:34PM

Hollywood Park: Coil hopes to use Swaps as springboard towards starring role

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Race-by-race, Coil is gaining a larger reputation in California’s 3-year-old division.

It’s not that there is much to conquer. The group has had a weak year, evidenced by the absence of any wins or placings in the Triple Crown in the spring by California-based runners.

Coil missed the Triple Crown, but he could play a role in the major August stakes for 3-year-olds with a victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Swaps Stakes over 1 1/8 miles at Hollywood Park. Trained by Bob Baffert for a partnership, Coil will be favored to win his fourth consecutive start.

The streak began last November in a maiden race and includes two wins this year – an optional claimer over six furlongs on May 6, and his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on June 11.

“His first race back was pretty impressive,” Baffert said.

Coil is part of a field of six in the Grade 2 Swaps. Considering the speed Coil has shown at times, he is expected to lead under jockey Martin Garcia.

“I’ll just let Martin decide what to do,” Baffert said. “Last time, they went real slow up front. I think Coil will show more speed this time.”

Coil will be closely pursued by Runflatout, who was second in the Affirmed. Trained by John Sadler, Runflatout has yet to win a stakes, having finished 10th in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita in March – which ended any discussions about a Triple Crown start – and a game second by a nose to Bench Points in the Grade 2 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters on May 15.

In the Affirmed, Runflatout was third until early stretch. He slowly reduced Coil’s lead in the final furlong but could not catch the winner. “He ran well late, so let’s hope he runs well on Saturday,” Sadler said.

Both Coil and Runflatout carried 116 pounds in the Grade 3 Affirmed, but there is a shift in the weights for the Swaps, which is run under allowance conditions. Coil’s win has left him the topweight at 118 pounds, while Runflatout carries 112 pounds. Jockey Garrett Gomez rides Runflatout, and he is likely to tack approximately 114 pounds.

Baffert also starts Uncle Sam, who was second in the minor Alydar Stakes over 1 1/8 miles here on May 8, but eighth in the Lone Star Derby on turf in Texas on May 30.

“You can throw that out,” Baffert said. “It was a disaster. He didn’t ship well.”

Wins by the other runners – Boxeur des Rues, Dreamy Kid, or Spud Spivens – would be a surprise. Dreamy Kid is making his stakes debut, and Spud Spivens was a well-beaten third in the Affirmed.

Boxeur des Rues won an optional claimer on turf on May 30, his first win in four American starts.

“He doesn’t seem to have a preference between the main track and the turf,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “We’re hoping he can put that big effort on the turf to the main track.”