West Coast stamps class with powerful victory for Baffert
Report: US, Saturday
Parx (Philadelphia): Pennsylvania Derby (Grade 1) 1m1f | dirt | 3yo
West Coast (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith) strengthened his claims as the best three-year-old around in the US with a thumping defeat of his rivals in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.
With none of the Triple Crown-race winners stamping their authority on the season, West Coast has stepped up in the last couple of months and added this contest to his win in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga last time.
In the process he bolstered trainer Bob Baffert’s team for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar in November, with Arrogate, Collected and West Coast all lining up as strong challengers to favourite Gun Runner.
Baffert said: “This horse is just getting better and better. 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.
“He’s just learning how to run and to have a three-year-old this time of year and the way he won the Travers and now winning this race he is going to be [a] horse to reckon [with].”
West Coast defeated his main rival Irap by seven and a quarter lengths under jockey Mike Smith, who said: “He is really a good horse. He is just better than they are right now, as far as three-year-olds go.”
Irap took a false step just before the finishing line and trainer Doug O’Neill revealed the colt had fractured both sesamoids in his front left leg. He is set to have surgery on the injury on Monday.
Also on Saturday
Parx: Cotillion Stakes (Grade 1) | 1m½f | dirt | 3yo fillies
It Tiz Well (Jerry Hollendorfer/Drayden Van Dyke) picked off the duelling Abel Tasman and Lockdown in the closing stages to give her trainer back-to-back victories in this race.
Abel Tasman, winner of three Grade 1s on the spin coming into this race, tried valiantly to secure a fourth Grade 1 from her tricky post in 11 of 12, but after being rushed up to challenge leader Lockdown at halfway she was unable to hold of It Tiz Well.
Hollendorfer captured the race with Songbird last year and another victory was particularly pleasing for the team.
Dan Ward, assistant trainer to Jerry Hollendorfer, said: “That’s very satisfying. She has been running good races and improving all the time. I thought we had a good chance. I thought we might get that trip. She did a super job.”