Two months out from the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert already has stable star Game On Dude penciled in for the prestigious 1 1/4-mile test. While that one awaits the Grade 2 San Antonio on February 3, several of his stablemates will try to prove their Big 'Cap credentials in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 San Pasqual over 1 1/16 miles.
The most accomplished of Baffert's four starters is Coil, whose Grade 1 wins include the 2011 Haskell Invitational and the 2012 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Coil completed last season on a slight downturn, finishing seventh over a speed-friendly track in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint and third behind Stay Thirsty and Groupie Doll in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.
Following the San Pasqual, Coil will enter stud duty at Magali Farms near Santa Ynez, California.
Jaycito is winless in stakes company since taking the Grade 1 Norfolk in October 2010, but has posted two solid allowance wins over the past six months, including a 2 1/4-length decision at Hollywood Park December 1.
Bank the Eight, a six-year-old who has raced only 11 times, was a dynamite 5 3/4-length allowance winner at Hollywood two back, but has been beaten soundly in two other starts for Baffert following a 15-month layoff. The return to dirt might help the former Pimlico stakes winner.
Baffert will also send out the speedy Hoorayforhollywood, a multiple stakes-placed son of Storm Cat who was most recently third in the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Mile at Hoosier Park in October.
Also expected to show early foot in the San Pasqual is Ultimate Eagle, a blowout winner of last year's Grade 2 Strub who later faltered as the favorite in the Big 'Cap. The Grade 1 turf winner returned from a layoff of more than eight months in the November 23 Grade 2 Citation Handicap, where he finished a solid second to Data Link.
Others of note in the San Pasqual are multiple Grade 2 veteran Tres Borrachos, the 2012 San Pasqual runner-up who was most recently second to Jaycito in the aforementioned Hollywood allowance, and multiple stakes winner John Scott, a last-out fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile after a troubled trip.