By Ben Massam
Gary and Mary West’s California-based West Coast (Flatter) delivered arguably the best performance by any 3-year-old of 2017 in capturing the Aug. 26 GI Travers S. at Saratoga, and Saturday, the Bob Baffert trainee will have an opportunity to continue his ascent in the newly minted Grade I Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing. In a wide-open class of sophomore males, another convincing victory by West Coast would certainly bolster his potential case for year-end championship honors.
A tough-luck second in his graded stakes debut in the GIII Stonestreet Lexington S. at Keeneland Apr. 15, West Coast came east again two starts later to dominate the listed Easy Goer S. on the GI Belmont S. undercard June 11. He used a comfortable victory in the July 15 GII Los Alamitos Derby as a stepping stone to his Travers success and has posted three workouts in the interim ahead of his latest cross-country journey to Philadelphia.
The greatest threat to West Coast could come from ‘TDN Rising Star’ Timeline (Hard Spun), previously unbeaten in four starts prior to a troubled fifth-place finish in the GI Betfair.com Haskell Invitational July 30. Bumped soundly at the break that day, the chestnut was rushed to assert himself into a taxing pace and flattened out in the stretch. Winner of the May 13 GIII Peter Pan S. at Belmont and the June 18 GIII Pegasus S. at Monmouth, Timeline has bounced back from the Haskell with a strong series of workouts at Big Sandy. Fellow ‘Rising Star’ Irish War Cry (Curlin) exits a relatively straightforward fourth-place finish in the Haskell and seeks to regain the form that saw the New Jersey-bred annex the GII Holy Bull S. and GII Wood Memorial S. prior to running second in the Belmont.
Reddam Racing’s 3-1 morning line second choice Irap (Tiznow) has put together a solid 3-year-old campaign and recently parlayed a pair of wins in the GIII Ohio and Indiana Derbies into a respectable wide-the-whole-way third-place effort behind West Coast in the Midsummer Derby. The Doug O’Neill trainee shipped into Parx early and has posted two workouts over the local strip in the preceding weeks.
Repole Stable’s Outplay (Bernardini) and Hardway Stable’s Talk Logistics (High Cotton) are the only two entrants with the benefit of previous experience over the local strip. The former captured an allowance at Parx prior to running third behind West Coast in the Easy Goer. He enters off a front-running score in the restricted Curlin S. at Saratoga July 28. Meanwhile, Talk Logistics recently finished second behind the promising ‘Rising Star’ Pavel (Creative Cause) in the GIII Smarty Jones S. Sept. 4.