01/05/2013 8:33PM

Santa Anita: Coil closes career as courageous winner of San Pasqual

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Benoit & Associates
Coil (left), under Martin Garcia, and Ultimate Eagle, ridden by Martin Pedroza, race on nearly even terms throughout the stretch of the San Pasqual before Coil wins by a head.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Bob Baffert began the day at Santa Anita watching Paynter go to the track for the first time since his return to training, and ended it by watching Coil outduel Ultimate Eagle in a thrilling stretch drive to win his career finale in the Grade 2, $150,000 San Pasqual Stakes for older horses.

“One superstar leaves, another comes back,” Baffert said.

Coil is headed to stud this spring, but he was doing well enough to give the San Pasqual a try, and he and Ultimate Eagle turned in the race of the young meet. Ultimate Eagle led narrowly for the first part of the 1 1/16-mile race, with Coil tracking him throughout, and they raced together through the final furlong, with Coil prevailing by a head.

John Scott was another 6 1/4 lengths back in third and was followed, in order, by
Tres Borrachos, Bank the Eight, and Jaycito, who lugged out throughout – something he has done occasionally in the past -- and was eased.

Martin Garcia rode Coil, who was timed in 1:42.52 on the fast main track.

“He’s got a huge heart,” Baffert said of Coil, who retires with 7  wins from 14 starts. “I love the way he ran today. We knew we’d either gain 10 mares or lose 10 mares.”

Coil, by Point Given, is headed by Magali Farms in California. Baffert alluded to the horse having “some issues” as the reason to go to stud rather than compete throughout 2013.

“We’d have to run him sparingly,” said Baffert, who said the other motivation to send Coil to stud was co-owner Mike Pegram’s desire to see the California breeding program supported. Coil is a two-time Grade 1 winner, in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship last year, and in 2011 in the Haskell.

Paynter could take his place later this year, but the mere fact he is back in training after becoming seriously ill last summer delights Baffert.

“It was so stressful when he was sick,” Baffert said. “It was up and down.”

Ultimate Eagle could make his next start in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, trainer Mike Pender said after the race.