Beast from the West: California's Coast out to capture Dubai riches for Baffert
Britain is in the grip of the Beast from the East but West Coast, placed in two of the most prized dirt contests in racing, is the one to stop in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan this month, according to his Californian-based trainer Bob Baffert.
Responsible for 2015 US Triple Crown hero American Pharoah, Baffert is a three-time winner of the $10 million race and is set to field West Coast in the contest he captured last year with world champion Arrogate, who never won again after succeeding in the most spectacular style following a slow start.
That, however, is not a worry for the US training legend, who could also be represented by Mubtaahij and Hoppertunity if they go well in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap a week on Saturday.
A son of Flatter owned by the West family, West Coast earned top laurels by landing last year's Travers Stakes and the Pennsylvania Derby, and was third in the Breeders' Cup Classic and second in the Pegasus World Cup.
"West Coast is going to go, for sure," said Baffert, speaking to the Racing Post.
"He's a top-class horse and a good shipper, which is important. He still needs some racing luck and we can't break like we did last year - what Arrogate did was pretty ridiculous, we don't want that again.
"We're looking forward to it and he's trained really well. Like with Arrogate last year, I wouldn't be going unless I thought he was training really well.
"The horse couldn't be better and if you bring the best horse from the US you've generally a good chance. He's a top-calibre horse and won the Travers; that's the kind of horse you want to take to Dubai. Our good American horses do well there."
Baffert has not, he stressed, been put off by superstar Arrogate's subsequent fortunes after his Dubai World Cup victory last year, and believes British and Irish bookmakers are right to make West Coast a general 6-4 favourite.
"I think that's a fair assessment," added the Hall of Fame trainer, who confirmed Javier Castellano would keep the ride. "He's the number one older horse apart from [the now-retired pair] Gun Runner and Arrogate.
"I'm not blaming Dubai for Arrogate's demise. He came back looking great. I think - and we're still trying to figure it out - maybe I waited too long to run him after Dubai. I just sat on him, but I don't blame it on Dubai at all.
"I enjoy going there. Hopefully everything goes smooth, the reward is huge and we get to hang out with a ruler of the country in Sheikh Mohammed, which is great."
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