SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Trainer Bob Baffert said he was looking for a way out of the Travers. But after watching Coil breeze a fast half-mile Tuesday morning over Saratoga's main track, Baffert and his 3-year-old appear to be all in for Saturday's $1 million Midsummer Derby.
With Baffert looking on from the empty Saratoga grandstand, Coil, winner of the Haskell Invitational, worked a fast four furlongs in 46.12 seconds in company with West Virginia Derby winner Prayer for Relief shortly after the 8:45 a.m. renovation break.
Coil, under jockey Martin Garcia, started five lengths behind Prayer for Relief and went his opening quarter in 22.43 as he attempted to catch up to his workmate. Coil drew on even terms with Prayer for Relief in upper stretch and finished a neck in front at the wire, working a final quarter in 23.69. Coil galloped out five furlongs in 58.58.
Baffert said provided Coil comes out of the work well Wednesday, "he's definitely running in the Travers. I liked his work today. He showed a lot of energy going to the pole. Martin said he hasn't felt that great in a while.
"I was looking for something like that," Baffert added. "Prayer for Relief is a really nice horse, and he had a big head start and [Coil] came to him like he's not moving. I can't believe he worked as fast as he did, but he's a good horse. So right now all systems go."
Baffert had expressed frustrations with Saratoga's main track to the point where many thought he would use that as excuse not to run Coil. But Baffert was happy with the surface Tuesday, one that played very fast following the break.
"Today he got over it really well, the best he's gotten over it," Baffert said. "The last couple of times he really struggled with it, but then again he was working with a real fast horse in Saddleranch I was looking for a way out, believe me. I didn't see that today."
Coil worked with a protective eye cup over his right eye, which had suffered a scratch during a workout here last week, according to Baffert. The horse can see through the cup. Baffert said he had not yet decided whether Coil would wear the protective cup in the race.
Coil, who rallied from last to win the Haskell, figures to be among the top three choices in the Travers along with Jim Dandy winner Stay Thirsty and Preakness winner Shackleford. Coil is a son of 2001 Travers winner Point Given, also trained by Baffert. Coil has won four of six starts and is a head loss away in the Grade 2 Swaps at Hollywood Park from bringing a five-race winning streak into the Travers.
"Point Given had more of a foundation, where this horse didn't really have the foundation," Baffert said. "He's doing things right now because of raw talent. He's fast, he's ratable, you can shut him off, which is good. His father used to do the same thing, he's not one dimensional."
Baffert said while he was pleased with how Prayer for Relief worked, he wasn't ready to commit him to the Travers, nor was he ruling it out entirely. Baffert is concerned about having only three weeks between races for Prayer for Relief.
Meanwhile, the Travers did pick up another starter in Malibu Glow, a recent first-level allowance winner at Saratoga.
"We're taking a shot," trainer George Weaver said. "We looked at the numbers in the race -- we look at Ragozin figures and so forth -- we want to give it a shot. We don't think we're that far off some of these horses."
Rajiv Maragh will ride Malibu Glow in the Travers.