05/16/2012 2:00PM

Lone Star Park: Coyote Legend avoids heavy hitters

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Coyote Legend could have advanced to the upcoming Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap off his fourth-place finish in last month’s Grade 3, $200,000 Texas Mile. But his connections instead have chosen to spot him more conservatively, returning him to the overnight ranks for Friday night’s featured fifth race at Lone Star Park.

The one-mile race, an optional $35,000 claimer for 3-year-olds and up, drew a field of seven. Coyote Legend figures to start as a strong favorite after taking the lead briefly in the Texas Mile, then ending up eight lengths behind winner Endorsement. The race was his graded stakes debut, and while his effort was solid it was not enough to lead his connections to consider the Lone Star Handicap, which could draw Canonize, the Texas Mile runner-up who is based in Southern California.

“I don’t want to take on those horses again,” said Bret Calhoun, who trains Coyote Legend.

Coyote Legend is an accomplished regional runner, having won seven stakes at Delta Downs, Lone Star, and Sam Houston. He drew a tactical spot in post 7. As a result, he might get a nice stalking trip behind Lydia’s Last Step, a multiple stakes winner who set the early pace in the Texas Mile before finishing eighth, and Cool Hand Val, who is stretching out to two turns off a win at seven-furlongs at Lone Star.

Cliff Berry has the mount on Coyote Legend. Calhoun said the horse could return to stakes action later in the meet, for the $50,000 Assault for Texas-breds on July 7.

Others set to run in Friday night’s feature include stakes winners J J’s Indy, Oak Motte, and Fifteen Love.

Gallop-boy turned jockey

Carlos L. Garcia, a 24-year-old native of Mexico who spent a number of years galloping horses for such trainers as Tony Richey and Cody Autrey, launched his riding career last week at Louisiana Downs. He had his first winner May 11, with Seattle Artist ($10.80). It came in his third career mount, on his second day race-riding.

“He galloped for seven years,” said Wayne Lumpkin, agent for Garcia. “He said he wanted to ride, but wanted to make sure he felt ready. He said he was ready to start now.”

Garcia rode Seattle Artist for trainer Jim Hodges.

“He’s been working a good many horses for me,” said Hodges. “I like him. I like his weight. He sits good, and he seems like a pretty smart young man. He’s got a real good work ethic.”

Lumpkin, who has represented such riders as Kirk LeBlanc and Diego Saenz, said he has long enjoyed working with apprentices like Garcia.

“It’s fun to watch somebody develop,” he said. “It’s like raising a kid in a shorter period of time.

“He looks like he has some ability. I think he’s going to be good.”