08/17/2011 2:54PM

Saratoga: Coil's status for Travers unclear after work

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Bob Baffert said he didn't get a "wow factor" from talking to jockey Martin Garcia after the work.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Bob Baffert won the Haskell last year with Lookin At Lucky but chose to skip the Travers. Baffert won the Haskell again this year with Coil, and though he went as far as shipping that horse to Saratoga, the Hall of Fame trainer sounds as if he’s seriously considering skipping the Travers again.

Though Baffert wasn’t in town to see Coil breeze six furlongs in 1:12.98 on Wednesday morning over the main track, the vibe he got from talking to jockey Martin Garcia as well as his assistant, Jimmy Barnes, was that the horse was not handling what Baffert called a “demanding track” as well as they’d like.

“Martin said he worked good, but I didn’t feel that wow factor from Jimmy or him,” Baffert said by phone from Del Mar a couple of hours after the work. “He’s a heavy horse, and some horses don’t get over that track as well. I was hoping it was going to be a little bit tighter today. I got to think about it.”

Baffert has had issues with Saratoga’s main track for a couple of weeks. He was surprised with how the track was maintained on Whitney Day when the threat of rain prompted track officials not to water the surface between races. The track was sealed and back-raked for both the Whitney and Test. The final time of the Whitney was the slowest since 1959. The final time for the Test was the slowest since 1963.

Baffert had initially planned to work Coil on Tuesday, but the main track was too sloppy for his liking, so he postponed it by one day. The track still had moisture in it Wednesday, but was rated good for morning workouts.

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Coil worked after the 8:45 a.m. renovation break and, under Garcia, went in company with stablemate and recent allowance winner Saddleranch. Saddleranch, under Shaun Bridgmohan, left the six-furlong pole about five lengths in front of Coil and opened that to a seven-length advantage early on in the work.

Coil went his first quarter in 25.63 seconds and the half-mile in 49.09 but was still several lengths behind Saddleranch at the quarter pole. At the three-sixteenths pole, Bridgmohan snuck a peek back to see where Coil was and even took a firm hold of his colt in order to let Coil get closer. Coil got within a neck of Saddleranch at the wire and the two galloped out side by side through seven furlongs in 1:25.75 and a mile in 1:40.28.

Talking to the press afterward, Garcia said he liked the work and said he was not concerned about catching Saddleranch.

“I wasn’t worried about the other horse, I was just going to do my job,” Garcia said. “I was just worried about making him finish really good and gallop out. The way he did it was just very, very good.”

Barnes also put on a happy face when spoke with reporters.

“He worked great,” Barnes said. “It’s not the ideal track we wanted to work on, but given the circumstances, we had to work and he had a good work.”

Baffert said Coil would work again Tuesday before he makes a final decision on whether or not to run. If Baffert skips the Travers with Coil, he said he would bring him back to Southern California and prepare him for a possible start in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Sept. 24.

Baffert did say that he planned to work West Virginia Derby winner Prayer for Relief on Thursday at Saratoga for a possible start in the Travers. Baffert said he has been pleased with how Prayer for Relief is handling Saratoga.

As far as The Factor goes, Baffert said he planned to work the colt Sunday at Del Mar and tentatively has him booked on a Monday flight for Saratoga for the Grade 1 King’s Bishop on Aug. 27.

“The plane leaves Monday,” Baffert said. “If he’s on the plane, he’s coming. He looks great.”

All for Thee heads Proud Spell

Trainer Tony Dutrow is nothing if not a realist, so when given the option of running All for Thee in Saturday’s $500,000 Alabama Stakes or Friday’s $75,000 Proud Spell Stakes, he chose the latter.

All for Thee, who had a three-race winning streak snapped in the Delaware Oaks, heads a field of six entered in the Proud Spell, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles over the main track. She is coming off a third-place finish behind Alabama contender St. John’s River in the Delaware Oaks.

“It’s my opinion she had her opportunity to see if she belonged in the Alabama, and it’s my opinion she does not,” Dutrow said. “She’s bred for the turf, and I’ll get her out there one day. I was hoping that day would be Sunday, but I chose not to race her against [Winter Memories]. She’ll fit in that race Friday; that’s what she is.”

All for Thee, who will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez, will attempt to come from off the pace. She will likely have to run down Love and Pride, who could play out as the primary speed for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Trainer Tom Albertrani sends out the uncoupled entry of Draw It and My Assets. Draw It, previously trained by Mike Maker, has not been out since May 20 when she finished second to Salty Strike in a first-level allowance at Churchill. Salty Strike used that race as a prep for a victory in the Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes.

My Assets finished fifth in the Grade 1 Mother Goose after winning a maiden race by 5 3/4 lengths in her second start.

Go Go Lolo and Japanese Garden complete the field.

Hungry Island up for challenge

While Winter Memories will be heavily favored to add Sunday’s $150,000 Lake Placid Stakes to her résumé, there’s at least one trainer who isn’t going into the race conceding anything.

Trainer Shug McGaughey will send out Hungry Island, a winner of three consecutive races, against Winter Memories, a filly to whom Hungry Island ran third when both debuted at Saratoga last Sept. 3.

“This is the place to run her,” McGaughey said. “Winter Memories is a very good filly and she’s very good right now, but she’ll know we’re in there.”

Harkening back to last year’s maiden race here, McGaughey said that Hungry Island “threw her head up at the break, had a wide trip, and Winter Memories got through on the inside.”

Hungry Island went 3 for 3 at Belmont during the spring meet, including a three-length victory in the Recording Stakes, beating next-out stakes winner My Redbyrd.

“She really ran good the last time,” said McGaughey, who noted that in the allowance race previous to that jockey Alex Solis “was down on the inside and he said it was just a matter of me getting her out and point her in the right direction.”

Justin Phillip eyes King’s Bishop

Justin Phillip, the Grade 2 Woody Stephens winner who finished fourth to Caleb’s Posse in the Amsterdam here Aug. 1, worked five furlongs in 1:01.45 on Wednesday morning over the main track in preparation for a possible start in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop.

“He went a good five-eighths, looked great doing it like he always does, great workhorse,” trainer Steve Asmussen said.

The King’s Bishop could feature the return of stalwarts Uncle Mo and The Factor as well as include Caleb’s Posse, Flashpoint, Poseidon’s Warrior, and Runflatout.

Dominus, third in the Jim Dandy, worked five furlongs in 1:00.68. Since he is owned in part by George Bolton – who also owns The Factor – it is unlikely he would run in the King’s Bishop if The Factor comes.