-- With a number of racetracks bunched near each other and running simultaneously, a jockey can find himself moving around a lot in a short period of time. Jockey Eibar Coa, based in New York this fall, hopped down to Pimlico on Saturday afternoon, skipped up to New Jersey to ride the night card at the Meadowlands, then had reservations on a Sunday morning flight to his native Venezuela for the biggest race in that country.
The mini-tour got off to a rousing start when Aggadan, the lone horse Coa rode at Pimlico, came from off the pace and barreled down the middle of the track to win the $75,000 Challedon Stakes for Maryland-bred 3-year-olds and up.
In the winner's circle after the race, Coa, 33, had little time for post-race festivities, needing to hurry to catch a train bound for New Jersey.
"I knew I was riding this horse yesterday," Coa said, after Aggadan ran the six-furlong Challedon in 1 minute 10.03 seconds. "They asked if I wanted to and I said, 'Yes.' He was much the best."
Aggadan, a New York-based 5-year-old son of stallion Carnivalay, proved his versatility in the race. In his prior start, he shipped down from Aqueduct for trainer Richard Dutrow and finished second to Presidentialaffair in the Maryland Million Classic at the distance of 13/16 miles. The cut back to six furlongs Saturday against some of the top sprinters in Maryland proved no problem as Coa roused him on the turn to surge past tiring leader Crossing Point and late-running Private Opening.
Jockey Mario Pino had been named to ride both the winner and Crossing Point, but his agent, Paul Plymire, committed to Crossing Point because the horse was definitely running.
"We weren't sure Aggadan was coming," Pino said after the race. "Crossing Point gave me all he had. He broke well and hung in there until the end."
Aggadan maintained the top form he has held since June. This summer he ran second behind horse of the year candidate Ghostzapper in the Grade II Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont Park. The victory in the Challedon, normally a seven-furlong race at Laurel Park, was his first stakes victory of the year.
Coa was scheduled to ride a horse named Happy Tril in the Grade I Simon Bolivar in Venezuela.
"That's our Kentucky Derby," the jockey said. He had a 7 a.m. flight that would arrive in South America at 2 p.m. for the 4:30 p.m. race. Asked if he had ever won it, Coa turned back as he hustled up the stairs to the jockeys' quarters. "Not yet," he said.