West Coast ‘Not Even Blowing’ After Classic Breeze With Hoppertunity

by | 10.22.2017 | 2:02pm
West Coast works at Santa Anita on Oct. 22, in company with Hoppertunity

Gary and Mary West's 3-year-old colt West Coast had his penultimate breeze before the Breeders' Cup Classic on Sunday, working six furlongs in a bullet 1:12.40 at Santa Anita. Under Drayden Van Dyke, the son of Flatter went in company with Hoppertunity for trainer Bob Baffert, passing his workmate in the stretch.

“He walks off the track like he's not even blowing,” Van Dyke told drf.com.

Winner of the G1 Travers and G1 Pennsylvania Derby in his last two starts, West Coast will take on his elders in the Classic. He will be ridden on race day by Javier Castellano; Van Dyke has the mount on fellow Classic contender Mubtaahij.

West Coast will have his final breeze for the Classic next weekend at Santa Anita, along with all four of Baffert's other possible entrants.

Hoppertunity is being prepared for the one-mile Comma To The Top Stakes next weekend, in anticipation of a start in Churchill Downs G1 Clark Handicap.

“The mile (of the Comma to the Top) is a little too short for him,” Baffert allowed, “but I've got to do something with him.

“West Coast went nice. He just sat behind Hoppertunity (on the outside) and they finished up together, so the plan worked. It was a good work for him.”

Watch West Coast's breeze here:

In other Classic action, both defending champion Arrogate and likely favorite Gun Runner galloped at Santa Anita on Sunday morning.

Watch Arrogate's gallop here:

Watch Gun Runner's gallop here:

On the East coast, Ralph M. and Lauren Evans' Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Diversify exited his Saturday breeze in good order and is expected to be among the pre-entries for the Breeders' Cup Classic when they close on Monday, said Ralph Evans Sunday morning.

Diversify, a 4-year-old New York-bred gelding by Bellamy Road, earned an all-fees-paid berth into the $6 million Classic on November 4 at Del Mar with his gate-to-wire Jockey Club Gold Cup win, but Evans said he and trainer Rick Violette, Jr. are continuing to weigh the merits of running in a seemingly speed-loaded reiteration of the Classic.

“We were pleased with the work so we'll pre-enter, but the final decision has not been made,” said Evans, who co-owns Diversify with his daughter Lauren. “We're very much on the fence. There are a couple in there that have the same running style as we do, so we might run the risk of being compromised [with a fast pace] and there's lots of races in New York. Frankly, I would love to run, but the final decision is up to Rick.”

Evans said there are “some pluses as well as some minuses” the connections are considering. One particular plus, he noted, is that Diversify's regular jockey, Irad Ortiz, Jr., who has ridden the gelding in his last three stakes victories, would be available to ride in the Classic.

“I don't know whether I would have pre-entered if I had to spend the money, but it's sort of a free look, if you will. You might as well,” he said. “We have our rider if we go and I think all we need is one major defection. I'd rather go out there trying to beat one or two horses than trying to beat three or four.”

On Saturday, Diversify breezed five furlongs in 1:01.58 over the Belmont main track with exercise rider Rodney Paine aboard in what would be his penultimate breeze for the Classic should he run. The conclusive decision will come after Diversify's next and final work before Breeders' Cup, slated for Saturday, Evans said.

“Rick would've been happy with anything 1:03 or less, because the final work will put a little more speed in him,” he said. “This was a semi-maintenance work. Rodney seemed to be very pleased. The way he did it was what was expected from him, and he cooled out fine and scoped fine.”

“After the pre-entries, we'll have one sharp work hopefully and if all goes well, then we'll probably get our space on a plane with some other horses that are going to Del Mar late,” he added. “Unless something comes up, it'll be a late decision.”

Evans has said previously that if Diversify does not run in the Breeders' Cup, he could be under consideration for the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on December 2 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

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