Magic According to Coil

Bob Baffert has performed so many extraordinary feats of magic over the years nothing he does should ever come as a surprise. But since the White-Haired Wonder hooked up with new jockey, Garcia the Great, even he is amazed at what he and Martin Garcia have been able to accomplish.

That amazement reached a new high in the $1,020,000 Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) July 31 as Baffert seemingly watched his streak of four consecutive Haskell victories go up in smoke when his speedy colt, Coil, broke slowly from the rail and dropped back to last in the eight-horse field, some eight-to-10 lengths off the pace. This is a horse who had been on or just off the pace in every one of his starts.

Baffert’s “trip from hell” getting to Monmouth Park was going to have a hellish conclusion. But he was forgetting Martin the Magnificent’s penchant for pulling rabbits out of a hat. And sure enough, presto chango, there was Coil circling the field like his sire, 2001 Haskell winner Point Given, and charging down the stretch to a game neck victory over 3-2 favorite, Shackleford, winner of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

Garcia had even amazed Baffert, who yelled over to him as he returned to the winner’s circle, “How did you do that?”

Baffert stood there, still in disbelief. “That little Mexican, I don’t how he does it. The kid is incredible. The horse is a really good horse, but Martin won the race. He does it over and over; it’s amazing.”

When Baffert told him he thought the race was over down the backstretch, Garcia put it straight and simple. “You don’t win the races back there; you win the races on this side.”

The trip from hell Baffert kept referring to began when he and owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman delayed their flight to New Jersey to watch their promising 2-year-old Drill make his career debut at Del Mar. Unfortunately, the colt finished eighth as the even-money favorite.

“We got in our (Gulfstream IV) jet and were scheduled to land in Belmar (N.J.),” Baffert said. “But the lights on the runway wouldn’t go on and we had to fly around for 45 minutes looking for an airport to land at. We finally landed somewhere in Northwest Philadelphia and then had to wait an hour and a half for the car to pick us up. We’re waiting at the airport at 3 o’clock when one of the wives says, ‘This damn horse better win.’ I have no idea where we were, All I know is that we went through five toll booths and didn’t get to our hotel until 5 o’clock in the morning. We left first-class on a G4 private jet and we arrived like gypsies. Then we discovered we were short a few rooms and we had to double up.”

But by early afternoon on race day all was back to normal, as Baffert paid his usual visit to Max’s Hot Dogs. And why not? Baffert’s record in the Haskell: four visits to Max’s Hot Dogs and four Haskell victories. Make that five for five now.

The Haskell shaped up as a classy, competitive race, headed by Preakness winner Shackleford and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Ruler on Ice, who was accompanied by stablemate Pants on Fire, winner of the Louisiana Derby (gr. II). Also in the field were Illinois Derby (gr. III) winner Joe Vann, Federico Tesio winner Concealed Identity, Bay Shore (gr. III) winner J J’s Lucky Train, and Astrology, a close third in the Preakness.

Baffert, on the advice of Garcia, decided to take the blinkers off Coil, who had never run on dirt. Having now won on dirt at first asking, won without blinkers at first asking, and won coming from far off the pace at first asking, racing has no doubt found a new star.

The son of Point Given – Eversmile, by Theatrical was bred in Florida by Glen Hill Farm, who raced the colt in their name. After he finished a solid third in his career debut at Hollywood Park last October, Baffert, who beat him that day with Awesome Patriot, made an offer to buy the horse. He met Glen Hill’s price and has never regretted it.

“I bought him privately on gut feeling,” Baffert said. “I saw him in the paddock and I thought, ‘I’ve never seen a Point Given look like this.’ He was better looking than his sire. I chased Silver Charm for years and that never worked out. I chased Point Given, and immediately after we bought (Coil), I said, ‘This is going to be the last Point Given I’m ever going to buy.’

“After he broke his maiden he chipped a knee and we gave him a couple of months off. We brought him back at Hollywood on Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) Day and he ran real fast that day (earning a whopping 106 Beyer speed figure).”

Then came a win in the Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) in his first two-turn race, then a head defeat at 1-2 in the Swaps Stakes (gr. II), in which he was rank early, and then off came the blinkers in the Haskell and on to the list of Eclipse contenders came Coil.

In the Haskell, Joe Vann set the early pace, carving out fractions of :23.38 and :47.02, while being stalked by Shackleford. Pants on Fire, Concealed Identy, and J J’s Lucky Train were together right behind, followed by Ruler on Ice, Astrology, and Coil, who was sent off as the 3-1 second choice.

Down the backstretch, Garcia took Coil off the rail and settled him outside Astrology. As they swung into the far turn, Garcia began his move and it was obvious he was going to have to go very wide circling the field. But Coil kicked into another gear and quickly moved into contention at the head of stretch.

“Don’t tell me he’s going to win this race,” Baffert said to himself.

Shackleford had taken over the lead and looked strong as he turned for home, but Coil soon was right alongside him and had all the momentum after a strong :23 4/5 quarter from the three-quarters to the eighth pole.

Shackleford, however, who is known for his toughness and tenacity, fought back after Coil had taken over the lead and the two battled to the wire, with Coil winning by a neck. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Ruler on Ice in third. The final time for the 1 1/8 miles was an excellent 1:48.20.

“The ride this kid put on this horse was unbelievable,” Baffert said. “I told him before the race, ‘You know, you always wanted to take this horse back and take the blinkers off, I’m going to let you ride him the way you want to ride him. When he stepped back at the break and broke last, all I’m thinking is, ‘This trip from hell is not over yet.’ I was disgusted and kept thinking about the trip home. When he made that big move on the turn it was unbelievable. I was really shocked what he did today, especially beating all those good horses the way he did.”

Said Garcia, “They took a little while to break and when they did, my horse took a step backwards. I didn’t want to be up near the front anyway, so when he didn’t break sharp I figured I’d just made the one move. They were going pretty fast the first half-mile and I didn‘t want to burn my horse. I just wanted to put him where he was comfortable and happy. Plus, speed wasn’t holding today, so I wanted to be back off the pace. When he made that move at the three-eighths pole, I felt I was going to win. When I asked him at the top of the stretch he just took off.”

Dale Romans was proud of the way Shackleford battled back.

“We got a great trip,” he said. “He took the lead turning for home and dug in once Baffert’s horse came up. It looked like he was digging in very gamely in deep stretch. I thought he was going to come back and win it.”

Trainer Kelly Breen, who saddled both Ruler On Ice and Pants On Fire for George and Lori Hall, said he will continue on to the Travers (gr. I) with the Belmont winner.

“Jose (jockey Valdivia Jr.) said he was good,” Breen said. “They just kind of quickened in the third quarter and it took him a while to get going.”

Look for him to improve off this race in the Travers.
Pegram never takes any of these big stakes victories for granted, even having won dozens of them since the early days with Thirty Slews and Real Quiet.

“It never gets old,” he said. “You keep getting reminded just how lucky you are. I hooked my wagon to the right star.”

That star was beaming long after the race, still amazed at what his horse and jockey had accomplished.

“With everything,” Baffert said, “it was a happy ending.”

The Travers

So, after everything, the Travers comes down to a battle of the titans – Baffert vs. Pletcher, with the 3-year-old title on the line.

We won’t go into the same song and dance again about Stay Thirsty’s oddly structured career and his attempts to get out from the shadow of Uncle Mo, who has pretty much dictated Stay Thirsty’s 2-year-old and 3-year-old campaigns. We’ll save that in case he wins the Travers, a race for which he may very well be favored. This has always been a talented horse who needed only to break free from his more illustrious stablemate.

Even after his huge effort in the Belmont Stakes, in which he battled hard along the inside to finish second, many of the experts dismissed that effort, saying it was the slop that helped him and they just couldn’t buy into him.

With the 3-year-old crop being maligned pretty much all year, Stay Thirsty needed to bring his “A” game in the Jim Dandy to silence his detractors. And silence them he did, winning by four emphatic lengths in a sharp 1:48 3/5.

He now will attempt to emulate his sire, Bernardini, who won the Jim Dandy and Travers in 2006. Javier Castellano rode Bernardini and now finds himself on his son.

There has been talk about Shackleford running in the Woodward instead of the Travers. That no doubt will depend on how the Whitney plays out. The 1 1/8-mile race on Saturday could very well catapult one horse to the top of the list for Horse of the Year honors and establish him as the early favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Although the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Woodward might seem more appealing, the feeling here is that the Travers still is the logical spot for Shackleford, unless the Whitney falls apart and produces a mediocre result. We don’t see that happening, but who knows in a year like this. Shackleford has already won the Preakness at 1 3/16 miles and ran well enough in the Kentucky Derby. Although the Travers is an extra furlong, the pace likely will be significantly slower than the Haskell, in which they went the first three-quarters in 1:10 3/5. With a slower pace, Shackleford, who keeps showing he is a tough nut to crack in the stretch, could control the pace a lot better than he did in the Haskell, where he was battling every step of the way, yet still came home his last eighth in a solid :12 3/5. And you have to figure he will move forward off this race.

Of course, Coil and Stay Thirsty will relish the mile and a quarter, but if Shackleford can have an easier time of it on or near the front end in slower fractions, he could be tougher to run down. And a victory in the Travers would put him right back at the top of the 3-year-old division.

Again, the Woodward’s distance looks more to his liking on paper, and perhaps Romans likes the five weeks better than the four weeks between races, but depending on what happens in the Whitney, having tough older horses like Tizway, Rail Trip, Mission Impazible, and Friend or Foe breathing down your neck the whole way might not prove all that inviting. And if you’re going to go down fighting, it might as well be against your fellow 3-year-olds, with whom you are battling for the Eclipse Award.


Leave a Comment:


Well ad another Haskell victory to Baffert's record,is it funny how some trainers win certain races several times or more.Coil got a good trip, and breaking last was a blessing in disguise,as horses were coming from off the pace all day.In the Travers at longer distances it pays to be close to the pace in years past and so far in this one.The trip is helping the 3yos win the big races so far this year and as such we havent had a favorite win a big 3yo race at two turns since when,I read your article on just this,not long ago.I hope the trainers realize that their are still no dominant 3yos,although as I have wrote on here in the past Shack is very good up to a 1 1/8.Having stated this I hope for 10 horses or more,because speed is dangerous at the spa and tracking from an inside post is also,so they should take a shot at the Travers,I think another upset,maybe even a NEW shooter could WIN the race,like  happened last year with an Afleet Alex from the Jerkens barn.

02 Aug 2011 2:00 PM
William Silver


Shackleford gotta be the leading 3yr old.  He is 2 necks away (Fl derby,Haskell) from being a 3x G1 winner!!....He has showed up everywhere,and ran HARD everywhere, where as most of his competition is sidelined or re-habing.  Is class of this division, Preakness Champion, and really the only colt to beat Animal Kingdom legitimately!?!?


02 Aug 2011 2:14 PM

Dang Shackleford is a fighter!  I really thought he was going to come back on Coil and get his nose in front.  I love a horse with heart like that.

02 Aug 2011 3:02 PM
Bill Two

Stay Thirsty really looks like a new horse and a dangerous one at that.  The way he pulled away in the Jim Dandy tells me he's going to take a lot of beating in the Travers. Coil is amazing.  Thanks for the inside info on the race.  What Martin Garcia and Bob Baffert do together is magic. No telling how good this horse can get. You have to admire Shackleford for the heart this horse has.  He really lays down the body every time he goes out there.  He will win his share hopefully.

02 Aug 2011 4:26 PM

This year is turning out to be interesting anyway, despite no clear leader or because of it...I think the flipside to low Stud and the lack of a clear leader(s) - whichever 3 year olds stay sound, we'll see most of them back as 4 year olds for a change. That will be refreshing. Especially to see Thirsty and Mo vs each other and now we have Overdriven to lookout for, plus Animal Kingdom's return and whomever else comes up through camp Pletcher, Baffert, etc..

02 Aug 2011 4:28 PM
anita b

Hi Steve,

Really enjoyed watching both races this past weekend. Like both horses--but love Coil's sire-Point Given. And in the Haskell--both the winner and Shackleford had problems at the start of the race and "see how they run" ran!Both horses ran great races.Should be a great Travers-whoever shows up. Thanks Steve for another great article.

02 Aug 2011 4:54 PM

Coil and Martin ran an impressive race and Coil is a handsome horse but my heart just broke for Shackleford.  He is just the kind of horse I love.  He is so determined and never quits.  He reminds me of Hard Spun who I also loved. Shackleford has been there and done well all this year - he is so deserving and I respect Dale Romans for his care and for putting him out there and keeping him sound.  Whichever race he ends up running, I will back him all the way.

02 Aug 2011 5:24 PM
an ole railbird

good articule, well written & very informitive. and thanks for the chance to state my opinion. much has been written about the lack of talent in 3 yr. old crop this year. so be it . but, the scrutiny of the press & the other bleeding hearts,has impaired the ability of the trainers to condition & race the horses that are available to them. you need to back off the armchair training & let the boys on the backside, do what they get paid to do. that is to race horses & put on a show for the gambling public. haveing said that . my favorite horse to watch this year (3 yr. old), is shackelford. he is the gritest, & most consistent of all the horses that i have seen in years. you have him to out run every time they lead him to the saddleing paddock. it matters not whether the race is ,the length of the spoon handle, or to starvation. the haskell brings to mindthat maybe there is another rivalry devoloping between him &coil, like the 1 between blind luck & harvdegrace. those are the kind of races that draw crowds& makes people gamble. it is my opinion that this years breeders cup races will be the hardest races to pick, that we have had in years. good luck & may the racing gods smile on you all. now lets go to the horses races.

02 Aug 2011 5:49 PM

Steve, where do you see Shackelford for the Breeder's Cup?  I think 1 1/4 is too long for him and 1 mile is too short.  

02 Aug 2011 6:12 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Despite winning three races with them and losing a 4th by a head I think that Coil hated blinkers. This is a smart horse with a keen awareness of where he and his competition is in the race. He likes to drop back and see what he has to do to get the job done. Coiled, ready to strike like a rattlesnake. This guy is a deadly closer. And if one strike doesn't get the job done, he'll fight back and strike again. It's a given that Coil will make the point-"If I can see 'em I can get 'em."

02 Aug 2011 6:12 PM
Bob from Boston

Bob Baffert does not appear to care too much about political correctness.  Great article.

02 Aug 2011 6:22 PM

Coil's Haskell was truly a great race as was Shackleford.  Shackleford proved a stayer as he has danced all the dances.  If Coil repeats this last race, I say look out in the Classic (but I would be pulling for Blind Luck if she were to run).  Kudos to Baffert to acknowledge Martin contribution to this Coil's win.

02 Aug 2011 6:37 PM

And don't forget we have Haskin the Magnificent to put the finishing touches on the race! And what a great race this Haskell was.  Steve, it was great seeing you and speaking to you there.  We were commenting on how great in appearance all the colts looked especially Shackleford and Astrology.  Shackleford is a strikingly beautiful animal, very Curlinesque in appearance.  He looked thinner than on camera, sometimes on camera he looks like a quarterhorse but in person this time he looked a thoroughbred.  He was so lathered up in a sweat in the post parade it appeared he had soap all over him. It is very hard not to feel badly that Shackleford did not win, he is just so gutsy and goes for it with his all that you want to see him get the win.  But I have to respect Coil and all that he had to overcome to get this win, he's much the best.  All in one race Coil had to overcome shipping, a dirt transition, the rail post, coming from way off pace, and doing it trying to figure out where his blinkers were, that's a lot to ask for and he was able to accomplish it.  He does deserve respect as a new star. And Martin Garcia I have mentioned before and have liked and respected since he started.  He is a fine young jockey who so far has exhibited class.

Mr. California, or Bob Baffert, looked great and none the worse for the wear and tear of his troubled trip getting to N.J.  I'm glad it all turned out very well for him.  Coil and Lookin' At Lucky, great testaments to California racing.

Ruler On Ice and Shack ran big races, it was good that the Belmont and Preakness winners were in the money as well and right up there in contention proving they are for real.

Nice to see Stay Thirsty finally shine through.  Travers is going to be some race if Coil, Shack, ROI, and Thirsty are in it.

Jason S. summed it up quite well with his classic line, "It's Baffert's and Pletcher's world, we all just live in it."  Love it!!!

02 Aug 2011 7:05 PM
james dandy

Shackleford has got to be leading 3yr old!!  He also GAVE 4lbs to Coil.  Is 4lbs a neck?? Whose to say?  

But I wlda prefered to have them equal weight.  No way Coil leapfrogs Shack, over one victory by a "neck" (@118 to  Shacks 122lbs).  Funny how, nehro, AK,  DI all out and Shack is still cruising and getting better.

I know if I raced Haskin 1 1/8 and I had to wear 4lb heavier shoes, he beat me by more than a neck!!

02 Aug 2011 7:06 PM

Coil is a dangerous horse. He is improving right when he needs to for Breeders Cup. Shackleton is the handsome hero who shows up for every fight, gives it his all and when he loses it breaks your heart a little because he tries so hard. He should be tough next time out. He will be sharp for sure. If he had a race under him he would have given Coil a run for his money cause he was not giving up, and the trip he had did its job on him. I think they should take him to Saratoga and run in the Travers. Then he can be the poster boy for the Breeders Cup like Zenyatta was the face of it last year. Even if he is not King of the division he is quickly becoming the Prince of Hearts.

02 Aug 2011 8:29 PM

Love how the 3 year olds are stepping up.  Shackleford, Coil, Stay Thirsty and Ruler On Ice are going to impress this season.

Shackleford is just so full of heart!

Coil seems like he is going to make himself known big-time.

02 Aug 2011 8:45 PM

Poor Shackleford never gets any respect. I was much more impressed with him than the winner as he never ever give up and always runs his race.

02 Aug 2011 8:45 PM

This is horse racing.  Shackleford ran a great race and his connections and fans ought to be really happy for his race , coming in second in a million dollar race is absolutely great in my opinion.  We all love Shack and his heart but you also have to give Martin Garcia great accolades for a job well done.  I know Bob Baffert thanks his lucky stars every day for him giving Garcia a chance to prove himself, and prove himself he has , over and over.

02 Aug 2011 9:44 PM

For the Travers, Stay Thirsty is the leading light right now but Shackleford is going to be tougher with the Haskell under his belt and To Honour and Serve is going to be ready for his breakthrough performance.  Coil will be moving up in weight and distance and may not be as appealing, but we have to respect Bob Baffert and his "partner in crime" Martin Garcia.

02 Aug 2011 10:26 PM
Paula Higgins

With Bob Baffert, what comes up, comes out. But I love it. He is such a character, a free spirit, and a nice man, so I am always entertained by him. I could listen to him all day. With his shock of white hair (which I love and my husband wanted to know if it was dyed LOL) he is so unique. Coil and Martin the Great did great. What a smart jockey he is and very intuitive. But like many here, I love Shackelford and his gutsy fight and heart. I also love the fact that so many get that about him. Speaks well for the posters here. Great blog Steve. You never cease to amaze me with your writing.

02 Aug 2011 10:26 PM
Susan from VA

I've been so impressed with the way Martin Garcia understands and connects with horses.  When he retires from his jockey career, he should consider becoming a trainer.

02 Aug 2011 11:07 PM
Donut Jimmy

I realize that the incentive is low when he is winning Grade 1 races on dirt, but with that pedigree, and the late kick shown in the Haskell, Coil might be an absolute terror on turf.

03 Aug 2011 3:29 AM

What a wonderful story; you couldn't have invented one like this. Bob Baffert trains and wins his first Haskell with the sire, Point Given. And then wins with Coil, the son. And Coil won in the style of Zenyatta (of whom Bob was a huge fan). Bob has a lot of good karma; he's smart and he's humble in giving credit to his jockey, Martin Garcia. And he's great for racing.

And it's a terrific year for the great great grandam Terlingua (Secretariat's best daughter). She has Shackleford running as well as the fastest sprinter in the USA, Sassy Image and Inglorius the Canadian filly and winner of the Queens Plate. Sassy (owned by Jerry Romans and trained by Dale Romans) looks sassy just like Terlingua and she won 3 stakes in a row after having throat surgery; in her last race, the Princess Rooney she  from came 20 lengths back and won at the wire with Mike Smith aboard--sounds familiar. Inglorious won against the boys in the Queens Plate and will be going to the Breeders Cup after running at Saratoga.  Sassy will be in the Ballerina and Inglorious will be in the Alabama at Saratoga. Has anyone talked to D. Wayne Lukas  about all this; he must be so proud of his best girl's great great grandkids. He always said how dominant Terligua was in imparting her characteristics to her offspring.

This is going to be some breeders cup this year. I wonder how many fillies and mares will run against the boys in the Classic?

03 Aug 2011 7:50 AM


I have always been impressed by Stay Thirsty. He had problems early this year but his last race is not getting enough attention.

Here is Stay Thirsty compared to Blame/Quality Road at Saratoga.

In the Whitney last year, 4yo Blame beat Quality Road a head, fully extended.

The time for that race was 1:48.88.

Stay Thirsty, a 3yo, won the Jim Dandy by 4 lengths in 1:48.78.

The Track Variant on the day of Blame's race was 11, indicating a fast track.

I do not have the Track Variant for  the day of Stay Thirsty's race. It would be interesting to see.

Stay Thirsty might be the most underrated horse in America.

03 Aug 2011 9:05 AM
Linda in Texas

Steve, you and you alone have the inborn gift of bringing things to life that portray the very essence of all things horse and mankind, including owners, trainers, jockeys, barns, it makes no never mind. We are all so lucky.

Once you put your thoughts on line and submit your articles and we read them, we are truly enlightened though so many of us are miles away.

Watching The Haskell, of course, i could not help but eye Shackleford, head fixed with his body aimed straight forward in his own lane, which i feel he never likes to change, and burrowing on down the track, then out of nowhere like a cloud of thundering hooves appeared C O I L. Where the hota hey did he come from? I had my nose to the screen zeroed in on Shack The Mack Truck and Coil eased ever so slightly past him.

Like an ole railbird, William Silver, greengirl and TerriV, i like Shackleford also as he shows heart and determination in every muscle. He has a very striking, sharp and well defined head. He is a beautiful steed. No doubt. His coat color is simply striking.

I hope Shackleford is around for this year and next as i hate to follow a horse only to have him or her retire at 3, never to race again.

And I have always liked Mr. Baffert, with his dry wit and folksy personality.  

Thanks Steve, we still don't have a clear leader of the 3 year olds, and i have been saying that for months. But that is a good thing, as it keeps the door open for more than just one to grab all of the headlines til The Breeder's Cup Races.

03 Aug 2011 11:10 AM
Pedigree Ann

Note that Coil got 4 lbs. from Shack and won by a neck. This is not as significant as Bold Reason beating Jim French at 10f getting 13 lbs., but it is something. The Travers is at level weights.

The chart says that Shackleford stumbled at the start. Did anybody notice if this was so? If he did, rushing up to get involved in the pace could have taken some 'oomph' out of him.

Shack will always struggle at 10f, but if he gets the right circumstances - weak field, no other front-runners - his class could carry him home in front.

03 Aug 2011 11:32 AM
Lori M.

Hi Steve!  I agree with commenters above - I love Shakleford!  It's ultra cool what Baffert and Pegram have accomplished over the years and they just keep on doing it - what a team!  I just wish Shakleford had not have to give Coil the 4 lbs.   Think Blind Luck and Havre de Grace should have been equal weight too.

03 Aug 2011 12:20 PM
Karen in Texas

Bob Baffert and Martin Garcia really are becoming a dynamic duo! Coil seems to be building momentum as fall approaches, with that last to first finish reminiscent of sire Point Given's BC Juvenile run in 2000. Although he finished 2nd by a head in that race, his sweeping and sustained move (with Gary Stevens aboard) was truly amazing. Shackleford's continuing fire and determination after competing in the Triple Crown is something very special, I think. He seems to relish the racing game and is a joy to watch! I wish both Coil and Shack continued success and safe trips!

03 Aug 2011 2:30 PM

Thank you for the backstory on Coil.  I was not familiar with him until I was reading about him on your website on Friday.  His pedigree caught my eye first as I have always been a big fan of his sire Point Given.  He even looks like his sire a big beautiful chestnut with that distinctive star marking.  I am thrilled to see his son doing well and I am honored to be added to Coil's growing list of fans.  

03 Aug 2011 2:31 PM

Baffert is on as big of a roll as he's ever been on. We all know Garrett Gomez is one of the top 5 jocks in the country.  Well Baffert took off Gomez to let Martin Garcia be #1 jock in his barn.  That shows that Baffert can pick out jock talent as well as horse talent.  It's just so amazing to see how the young Garcia has matured in such a short period on time.  Just a few years ago, he was making sandwiches in a Pleasanton, Ca deli and had never ridden a horse before.  

Hey east coast, with Blind Luck and Coil going for Eclipse Awards this fall, it's time to recognize:  Even though California horses always have to travel east if they want to match up with your best (eastern horses NEVER come out here), THEY KICK ASS!

Another thing to recognize:  Horses that get experience on synthetic tracks are just plain tougher than dirt-only horses.  And there are MANY big races run in North America as well as the world on synthetic tracks.  Think $10 million Dubai Cup next Spring.

03 Aug 2011 8:54 PM

Just a little note to us Shack fans.  There is a video of him arriving and getting a bath and in the barn at Saratoga on NYRA's Saratoga website.  Haskell took nothing out of one of our favorite boys and he looks great. Coil has arrived as well.  I so repect Coil for all he had to overcome to get the Haskell win and he seems an amazing athlete that can strike from far off the pace but I just love Shack and his grit, determination, and will.

So glad Uncle Mo is doing so well in Saratoga too.  Does anyone know if Kiaran brought Soldat there, would be a great place to rest Soldat's feet at the Spa.

03 Aug 2011 9:06 PM

Wow..2 of the best race horses in the past decade (I say that because I loved them both) have their colts carry their banners into history.  Bernardini/Stay Thirsty victories in the Jim Dandy; Point Given/Coil victories in the Haskell.  Wow.  I no longer think ST is a grinder.  He's maturing beautifully...and getting faster.  And Coil seems to be the first PG colt to evince his sire's best attributes.  Point Given made our jaws drop with his performances that earned him the Hall of Fame status; Coil seems to feel obliged to do the same.

I have never agreed that this is a mediocre crop of 3 year-olds; I feel that there is so much talent in this crop that it's a difficult year for one to stand out because we have so many that are really, really good.  The UK has Frankel, Uncle Mo is on his way back, Goldie and Frankel may meet...It's a very exciting second half to the year.

Great writing, Steve.  As usual you've got the back story with so much heart.

04 Aug 2011 6:54 AM
calico cat

I'm planning a trip to Saratoga for the Travers, so I'll be there to see Coil run and maybe win! It should be a tremendous day. This will be my first time at Saratoga, so I'm very excited. Will you be there that day Mr. Haskin? If yes, maybe I'll get to shake your hand again and hopefully not be as tongue-tied as I was at Santa Anita when you were here for the 2009 BC. lol!

04 Aug 2011 12:58 PM

Mo is still on track for the Bishop, any updates on The Factor making it there too? I'm blocking my calendar for Traver's day this year (to watch at home). Could have 2 showdowns to watch...

04 Aug 2011 1:12 PM
Karen in Texas

Steve, this is off topic, but I wanted to thank you for your update on Smarty today. Sounds as though he cleared quarantine healthy and happy! It seems that Uruguay truly appreciates having him there as a stallion!

04 Aug 2011 1:27 PM
Smoking Baby

 Pedigree Ann....Shackleford did indeed stumble at the start.  I was watching him and mentioned it to my girlfriend.  It wasn't REAL bad but he certainly didn't break clean.  What I missed while watching Shackleford is that Coil stumbled as well.

04 Aug 2011 4:15 PM

Off topic Steve but thanks for the Smarty update!  Heeeeere we go..........Chapter 1 of "Don Smarty & Las Senoritas!!!"  Boy, they are wasting no time, he arrives and is bred to Quatro Piedras (4 Stones) 5 hours later!!! I'm naming the offspring already:

Four Times As Smart


Spanish Tryst

Corazon de Piedra (heart of the stone)

I am glad Steve is going to chronicle Smarty's adventures for us!  Buena Suerte, Senor Smarty!

04 Aug 2011 7:00 PM

Steve, is the name of the farm in Uruguay Cuatro Piedras or the mare's name, wasn't sure.  Please let us know the senorita's name (mare) if that's not it.  Either way, the names work!

04 Aug 2011 7:10 PM
Bill Two

Markinsac: Tell that to Graham Motion. He's got a plane that goes west. I do have to admit that Baffert and Hollendorfer have bragging rights and I sympathize with your point that not too many eastern horses come to California, but don't say nobody comes there from the east.  Incidentally, thanks for sending Alex Solis to us. Love the guy on turf especially when he rides for Shug.

04 Aug 2011 8:27 PM
Karen in Texas

ABF----I think the name of the farm is Haras Cuatro Piedras. They have a nice picture of Smarty on their site. I'll try to link it.

04 Aug 2011 8:42 PM
Linda in Texas

I felt wrong talking about Shack when the title of the article is Coil. Didn't mean to leave off so many Shack Supporters, please forgive me Slew Alex'sBigFan,Smoking Baby,Guiness and anyone else.

Good thing you speak Spanish Alex'sBigFan, as fast as the Uruguayans work Smarty gonna' be coming home speaking Spanish and

will need a translator.:) I am glad he has been accepted so nicely and more than anything truly appreciated.

04 Aug 2011 9:38 PM
Linda in Texas

And ABF, thanks for the tip on Shack arriving at Saratoga on NYRA. I finally found it. Just not long enough though, i could watch him all day. All of them for that matter.

04 Aug 2011 9:46 PM

I bet Bob Baffert has Martin Garcia on his Speed Dial.  lol

04 Aug 2011 9:57 PM
Fran Loszynski

Shackleford ran an awesome race, I will always see Secretariat in him. The Romans should be proud. I felt bad when I saw Shack's right eye droop down almost like saying "Oh No!" This racehorse has heart and hope he runs in the Travers and Breeder's Cup he deserves it. It was a great race for Coil and this year has just been every race has a different horse winning. Today Afleet Again runs his race in Saratoga. Yes it may be a tough race but Afleet Again runs with his heart and for the love of his owners. Your Dad is watching! Once again congrats Shack on an awesome race and run.

05 Aug 2011 7:59 AM

Seems like Coil is still pretty green. His potential is still wide open. Reminded me of Curlin a little when watching the Haskell. If he "gets it" he's going to be tough to beat...sure with AK was still running this year. Maybe if Thirsty is coming into his own and Mo comes back, we may still look back at this year and say "oh yes there WERE some strong runners" after all!

05 Aug 2011 10:13 AM

Linda & Karen (2 Texas cuties),

Thanks.  Karen, thanks for the Haras Quatro Piedras website, very nice.  They seem to be thrilled to have Smarty there.  Yep, Smarty's on vacation alright.


I'm east coast but I have a huge respect for California racing, I LOVE it as I have mentioned in many blogs.  They have had brilliant horses the past few years in Zenyatta, Lava Man, Blind Luck, Lookin' At Lucky, Plum Pretty, Colonel John, Coil, etc.  I agree that Baffert and Garcia are veritable horse whisperers and respect what Garcia has accompished in such a short time.  The CA horses do seem to have more of a versatility in adjusting to various surfaces and transitioning to dirt.  I think CA racing is awesome and hope it continues to impress, east or west coast though, the sport is wonderful.

05 Aug 2011 6:30 PM
Pedigree Ann

TerriZ, Secretariat's best racing daughter was Horse of the Year Lady's Secret. She won 25 of 45 starts (and she ran a few times after it was clear she didn't want to be a racehorse any more; typical Lukas) and won 11 G1 races, including racing against the guys - her record includes a Whitney win and placings in the Met Mile and Woodward. And for best producing daughter, Weekend Surprise, Six Crowns, and Lady Winborne could give Terlingua a run for the money.

07 Aug 2011 10:24 AM

Poor Shack...Romans is running him back at a mile and a quarter again in the Travers. I think if he gets beat and ends up 3rd, he can't possibly win the division no matter what else he does. If he took on the elders at the shorter distance, he would have a shot...I think it's between Coil and probably Thirsty, AK and even Ruler on Ice may bite again at a longer distance...

08 Aug 2011 1:43 PM

Linda: you have nothing to apologize for.  When you luv a horse, you luv a horse...and I have yet to see any horse I haven't liked this year.

Zookeeper:  Hope your resevations for the Spa were made early...because finding available rooms and transportation is rough.  I get the feeling they're booked a year ahead of time.  (But I don't know.)  

I'm looking forward to every race day at the's such an exciting time.  (Thrilled my Tar Heel Mom is finally back!)  And always, in the back of my mind, is the Breeders' Cup.  

09 Aug 2011 9:50 AM
calico cat

Slew -- It wasn't easy but I'm all set. Now, all I need is nice weather!!! Can you help  with that? :)

11 Aug 2011 11:19 AM
Linda in Texas

Steve, it has been 8 days since you posted the article about Smarty Jones being bred in Uruguay.

So much going on and some of us need the gift of your direction and perspective!

Hope you are 'horsing' around someplace fun, Steve, so you can tell us all about it. :)

12 Aug 2011 10:50 AM
Linda in Texas

Slew - you mention "thrilled my Tar Heel Mom is finally back" you know i watched her race at Gulf Stream several months back and i thought funny name, i wonder if she is a Nawth Carolina horse with a name like Tar Heel Mom. Then i saw her race at Philadelphia, Delaware and Belmont maybe not in that order and i said to self, why isn't anyone raving about her or just mentioning her? I then see her race at Saratoga. So i said to self, she has arrived!  She has raced at The Spa and won. Now i read you obviously had your eyes on her also. No, she didn't come in first in all those races, and she came in 4th in one race this year. But she finished first or second in all the rest and her campaign started in January. Did not race in March or July, otherwise she raced 6 out of the last 8 months. She is a sport and i love her for it. Her trainer is Stanley Hough and owned by Mr. Alex Rankin. And she is SIX YEARS OLD. You go girl friend you have 2 faithful followers for sure who are watching everything you do.

12 Aug 2011 12:13 PM

Zookeeper....glad you have all the arrangements made.  I still want to get to the spa but it's a spur of the moment thing for me...and I just haven't been able to get it done.

Linda, I've always liked Tar Heel Mom.  I've been watching her for several years.  I'm a fan of hers, and I've seen some misfires earlier this year and have been hoping to see her come back to form.  

17 Aug 2011 7:12 PM

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