Flatter Colt Goes Coast to Coast in Travers

West Coast | Sarah Andrew

A GI Travers S. featuring the three individual winners of the Triple Crown races–the first time that's happened since 1982–certainly made for its share of good pre-race headlines.

Bob Baffert apparently had other ideas.

A year after shipping 'TDN Rising Star' Arrogate (Unbridled's Song) to the Spa for a performance for the ages, the Hall of Famer captured his second-straight 'Mid-Summer Derby' in wire-to-wire fashion courtesy of Gary and Mary West's streaking West Coast (Flatter). The handsome bay, off at odds of 6-1, had 3 1/4 lengths to spare over 24-1 chance Gunnevera (Dialed In). Irap (Tiznow) was third. Tapwrit (Tapit), winner of the GI Belmont S., was fourth.

“I'm just fortunate we got control of the canoe one more year,” said Baffert, who also trained 2001 Travers hero Point Given (Thunder Gulch). “I think the key to today was that the horse was in his element in the paddock, and he looked great going to the gate. Usually, he gets all worked up and hot, and today he was perfect. He was a saint.”

Baffert continued, “We really didn't have a plan for this horse after this. The whole plan was to get to Travers, but after that, we'll just sit down. We'll let it sit. Gary's been so patient with me, and he's been great. I'm so happy for him, because Gary and Mary, they deserve to win a race like this. They buy nothing but the Classic-type horses, horses that run.”

The Wests and Baffert also campaign last year's Travers runner-up American Freedom (Pulpit). The duo teamed up for a victory in the 2013 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile with New Year's Day (Street Cry {Ire}).

“Well, this is a race that we watched for probably 40 years we've been in horse racing and obviously it's always one we'd love to have won, and we finally won one,” winning owner Gary West said. “Bob thought he was a nice horse all along, but in his early training, he didn't really stand out. I didn't think we'd be sitting here today having won the Travers. I'm just being honest with you.”

West continued, “He's been progressively getting better. I've watched the last couple of his breezes with Bob. I thought he had a decent shot in here, but you've got to remember you've got the winner of the Derby, the Preakness, the Belmont, the first and second finishers of the Haskell, the first and second finishers of the Jim Dandy. You have to go back a lot of years in history to see a Travers with this many quality horses in it.”

A come-from-behind last-out winner of the 1 1/8-mile GIII Los Alamitos Derby July 15, Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith changed up tactics here, sending the bay to the front after breaking sharply from post three. He clicked off fractions of :23.82 and :48.12 with the Derby winner Always Dreaming (Bodemeister) chasing in second. West Coast quickly put that one away, but braced for the oncoming challenges from Irap, Gunnevera and Tapwrit at the top of the stretch. West Coast still had plenty left, however, and found another gear in the stretch to win as much the best.

Gunnevera, winner of the GII Fountain of Youth S. earlier this term, came flying from 11th after getting bumped badly at the break and survived an inquiry after coming in on Irap in deep stretch. Always Dreaming tired to ninth; GI Preakness S. Winner Cloud Computing (Maclean's Music) was eighth. Favored Good Samaritan (Harlan's Holiday), an impressive winner of the GII Jim Dandy S. in his dirt debut, left himself too much and was fifth.

“[Bob Baffert] said, 'Listen, you ride him however you want, and he'll put a big effort,' and that means I could do whatever I wanted,” Smith said. “I thought there wasn't much pace, but man, I caught a good jump, put him on the lead, and he just cruised from there. He was a happy horse all the way around there. There was a time or two when they came to me, but he just put them away, and every time they would he'd take a big old breath of air, so I felt confident he'd continue to run well.”

West Coast, a maiden winner at second asking at Santa Anita Mar. 12, came up just a head short after leading in the stretch when second in Keeneland's GIII Stonestreet Lexington S. Apr. 15. He's perfect in four subsequent attempts, including a visually impressive tally in Belmont's Easy Goer S. June 10.

Pedigree Notes:

West Coast is out of champion Caressing, who took home top juvenile filly honors in 2000 after a victory in that term's GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She also won the 2001 GI La Troienne S. and retired in the summer of 2002 with just shy of a $1 million in earnings. The 19-year-old mare, a $180,000 KEESEP yearling purchase in 1999 by Mike Ryan, agent, was not bred back after producing West Coast and failed to get in foal to Bodemeister the following season, but produced a Carpe Diem colt Feb. 18 of this year. Caressing is also responsible for GSP Juan and Bina (Indian Charlie) and Gold Hawk (Empire Maker).

TRAVERS S. PRESENTED BY NYRA BETS-GI, $1,250,000, SAR, 8-26, 3yo, 1 1/4m, 2:01.19, ft.
1–&WEST COAST, 126, c, 3, by Flatter
1st Dam: Caressing (Ch. 2yo filly & GISW, $955,998),
by Honour and Glory
2nd Dam: Lovin Touch, by Majestic Prince
3rd Dam: Forest Princess, by Fleet Nasrullah
($425,000 Ylg '15 KEESEP). O-Gary & Mary West; B-CFP
Thoroughbreds LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert; J-Mike E. Smith.
$670,000. Lifetime Record: 7-5-2-0, $993,800. *1/2 to Gold
Hawk (Empire Maker), GSP, $158,043; and Juan and Bina
(Indian Charlie), GSP, $179,020. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click
for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.[bullet ad=”hermitage-farm-west-coast-double”][bullet ad=”kbif-g1″]2–Gunnevera, 126, c, 3, Dialed In–Unbridled Rage, by
Unbridled. ($16,000 Ylg '15 KEESEP). O-Margoth;
B-Brandywine Farm & Stephen Upchurch (KY); T-Antonio Sano.
$230,000.[bullet ad=”brandywine-foaled-raised”][bullet ad=”altamira-training-graduate”]3–Irap, 126, c, 3, Tiznow–Silken Cat, by Storm Cat. ($140,000
RNA Ylg '15 KEESEP; $300,000 2yo '16 OBSMAR). O-Reddam
Racing LLC; B-Aaron & Marie Jones (KY); T-Doug F. O'Neill.
$125,000.[bullet ad=”grand-oaks-equine-bobby-dodd”]
Margins: 3 1/4, 2 1/4, 2HF. Odds: 6.10, 24.50, 5.80.
Also Ran: Tapwrit, Good Samaritan, Giuseppe the Great, McCraken, Cloud Computing, Always Dreaming, Lookin At Lee, Girvin, Fayeq.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


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