Baf­fert mulls West Coast’s fall

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - Front Page - By David Gren­ing

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – West Coast’s dom­i­nant 3 1/4length vic­tory in Satur­day’s Grade 1, $1.25 mil­lion Travers Stakes only fur­ther mud­died an al­ready jum­bled 3-yearold pic­ture, with fall plans un­clear for him and many of his van­quished.

West Coast was due to re­turn to Cal­i­for­nia on Mon­day. Later this week trainer Bob Baf­fert and owner Gary West will meet to dis­cuss what might be next for West Coast, who went gate to wire un­der Mike Smith in the Travers for his fourth con­sec­u­tive vic­tory.

On Sun­day, Baf­fert men­tioned the Grade 1, $1 mil­lion Penn­syl­va­nia Derby at Parx Rac­ing on Sept. 23 and the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Bel­mont Park on Oct. 7 as po­ten­tial op­tions. The Penn­syl­va­nia Derby is re­stricted to 3-yearolds at 1 1/8 miles. The Jockey Club Gold Cup is for 3-year-olds and up and run at 1 1/4 miles. A vic­tory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup would look sexy on a ré­sumé for a horse bat­tling for a 3-year-old cham­pi­onship.

“We know he likes Bel­mont,” said Baf­fert, re­fer­ring to West Coast’s vic­tory in the Easy Goer Stakes on the Bel­mont Stakes un­der­card.

Baf­fert wanted to see how West Coast trained before he set­tled on what might be next.

West Coast, a son of Flat­ter, won his fourth con­sec­u­tive race in the Travers, in which he ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.19. He earned a 108 Beyer Speed Fig­ure, the high­est num­ber for a 3-year-old in a two-turn race this year.

Rid­den by Edgard Zayas, Gun­n­ev­era fin­ished sec­ond in the Travers by 2 1/4 lengths over Irap af­ter get­ting bumped at the start and sus­tain­ing a long, wide rally from the mid­dle of the back­stretch to mid­stretch. His con­nec­tions were pleased with the per­for­mance and said they would at­tempt to train him up to the Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic on Nov. 4 at Del Mar.

“He ran great, we’re very happy,” said Alessan­dro Sano, son of trainer An­to­nio Sano. “Zayas put a lot of ef­fort in and never gave up. A next pos­si­ble race is the Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic and we’ll train him to­ward that race.”

Irap, third in the Travers by 2 1/2 lengths over Bel­mont Stakes win­ner Tap­writ, will be pointed to the Penn­syl­va­nia Derby, trainer Doug O’Neill said via text. Irap will stay on the East Coast to pre­pare for that race, ac­cord­ing to O’Neill.

Af­ter run­ning poorly for the third straight race, Ken­tucky Derby win­ner Al­ways Dream­ing will be sent to WinS­tar Farm in Lex­ing­ton Ky., on Mon­day for a break and will get a com­plete phys­i­cal, af­ter which his con­nec­tions will make a de­ci­sion on his fu­ture, trainer Todd Pletcher said.

Al­ways Dream­ing, un­der John Ve­lazquez, stalked West Coast for the first seven fur­longs before giv­ing way. He fin­ished ninth, beaten 18 lengths.

“I can’t of­fer much ex­cuse based on the trip he got,” Pletcher said. “He was in the po­si­tion that we thought he would be in and he seemed to be go­ing com­fort­ably. He came off the bri­dle on the far turn and that was it.”

Since win­ning the Derby, Al­ways Dream­ing has fin­ished eighth in the Preak­ness and third in the Jim Dandy. Still, Pletcher sees Al­ways Dream­ing as the most-ac­com­plished 3-year-old so far with wins in the Ken­tucky Derby and Florida Derby.

“He’s still the only one with two Grade 1 wins [on dirt] to this point,” Pletcher said. “Like I’ve said a lot of times before, peo­ple don’t weigh the first half of the year as heav­ily as they weigh the sec­ond half of the year, but the Florida Derby and Ken­tucky Derby is the strong­est com­bi­na­tion, you could ar­gue.”

Bel­mont Stakes win­ner Tap­writ fin­ished fourth in the Travers un­der Jose Or­tiz, and Pletcher said he came out of the race well and could pos­si­bly make his next start in ei­ther the Penn­syl­va­nia Derby or the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Bel­mont on Oct. 7.

“I was hop­ing he’d have a lit­tle more punch when Jose moved him out,” Pletcher said. “He kind of fin­ished a lit­tle bit evenly. You could make a case that it was a lit­tle bit of a hard track to make up ground on. He ran well, looks good, so we’ll go on to ei­ther the Penn­syl­va­nia Derby or the Jockey Club de­pend­ing how things un­fold here the next cou­ple of weeks.”

Preak­ness win­ner Cloud Com­put­ing fin­ished eighth, 12 1/4 lengths be­hind West Coast. Trainer Chad Brown did not of­fer an ex­cuse for him ex­cept to say it was the sec­ond straight race over Saratoga’s main track in which the horse failed to run well. He had fin­ished fifth in the Jim Dandy on July 29.

Brown said he needs to re­group with Cloud Com­put­ing, and de­pend­ing how he bounces back he could con­sider the Penn­syl­va­nia Derby. Last year, Con­nect fin­ished sixth in the Travers and bounced back to win the Penn­syl­va­nia Derby.

Good Sa­mar­i­tan, the Jim Dandy win­ner, fin­ished fifth, beaten nine lengths. He was last for the first three-quar­ters of a mile.

“He dropped back a good ways, maybe a lit­tle far­ther than any­one would have wanted,” trainer Bill Mott said. “He beat ev­ery­body that he beat in the Jim Dandy, though I don’t know what that means, and he was beaten a length by the Bel­mont win­ner.”

Mott wasn’t sure what might be next for Good Sa­mar­i­tan.


West Coast won the Travers by 3 1/4 lengths and could race next in the Penn­syl­va­nia Derby or the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

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