Gary and Mary West's aptly-named West Coast dominated his second straight Grade 1 race in Saturday's $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, cruising under the wire 7 1/4 lengths in front of his competition. Off as the heavy favorite at 4-5 under Mike Smith, West Coast galloped alongside the pacesetter Outplay down the backstretch, ranged up alongside in the turn and powered to the front turning for home; from there he was never truly threatened. Trained by Bob Baffert, the 3-year-old son of Flatter covered nine furlongs over Parx' fast main track in 1:49.91 seconds.
‘This horse is just getting better and better,” Baffert said. “We thought he would run a big race, and he was calm in the paddock. He is just a big boy. It was nice the way he ran. He did it pretty easily.”
An inquiry was conducted into the stretch run due to some lugging in by the runner up Irap, but the stewards opted not to change the order of finish. Irap (3-1) finished second in front of Giuseppe the Great (47-1) in third and Game Over (19-1) in fourth.
The Daily Racing Form later reported that Irap suffered a fracture to his left front sesamoid after the Pennsylvania Derby. The leg was stabilized and the colt was vanned off the track, back to his barn. Caton Bredar posted on Twitter that the colt has been fitted with a Kinzie splint and that he would be vanned to the New Bolton Center on Sunday morning.
West Coast seemed to stumble just a bit at the break, but recovered quickly and Smith urged him on to be near the front of the pack. Outplay was the quickest off the blocks from the group of 10 sophomores, striding out to a one-length lead through the first turn. Smith kept West Coast off the rail right on Outplay's heels through fractions of 23 1/5 and 47 1/5 seconds, then moved West Coast up to pressure Outplay's pace just before the far turn, at which point Smith backed off again.
Behind the leading pair were Game Over and Timeline, with Irish War Cry traveling well off the rail in fifth in front of Irap. Irish War Cry came up three-wide around the far turn into third alongside Game Over, just as West Coast moved up again to challenge Outplay for the lead.
Smith and West Coast easily took over in the turn, and had a two-length jump on the field at the head of the lane. Irap came very wide around the turn to challenge a dueling Irish War Cry and Game Over, but West Coast was already long gone. In mid-stretch, Irap suddenly shot toward the rail, crossing directly in front of the path of Irish War Cry and forcing his rider to check sharply. Irap was straightened out to finish a clear second behind runaway 7 1/4-length winner West Coast. Giuseppe the Great came from behind to finish third, just ahead of Game Over.
“I felt real good on the first turn,” Baffert said. “Mike had him in a good position kept him on the outside. I told him don't go near the rail. At the 3/8ths pole he had a lot of horse and I was afraid he was going to get a little bored out there [West Coast]. He's just learning how to run and to have a 3-year-old this time of year and the way he won the Travers and now winning this race he is going to be horse to reckon with.”
Bred in Kentucky by Carl F. Pollard's CFP Thoroughbreds at Hermitage Farm, West Coast commanded $425,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The colt won his second start, though he didn't begin his career until February of his sophomore season, then ran second in the G3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. He took an allowance in California before shipping east again to win the Easy Goer Stakes, then flew back and forth again to take the G3 Los Al Derby and the Travers in July and August.
Raced consistently once a month since debuting in February, West Coast has compiled a record of six wins and two seconds from eight starts. The colt's second Grade 1 win has improved his earnings to $1.5 million.
“He is really a good horse,” Smith said. “He is just better than they are right now, as far as 3-year-olds go.”
Watch the race replay here:
— TVG (@TVG) September 23, 2017
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