West Coast made a sweeping move to the lead at the top of the stretch and drew off convincingly to validate favoritism in Saturday’s $150,000 Easy Goer at Belmont Park, the first of 10 stakes on the Belmont Stakes card.
Squeezed back due to an early bump but aided by a hot pace of :22.79, :45.62 and 1:10.09 set by Wicked Macho, West Coast made a four-wide bid on the turn and won going away by 3 3/4 lengths under Mike Smith.
“I got squeezed at the start, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because they were going way too quick and I might have got caught up into it,” Smith said.
Owned by Gary and Mary West and trained by Bob Baffert, West Coast returned $5.70 as the 9-5 favorite. The final time for 1 1/16 miles on a fast track was 1:41.50.
You’re to Blame, the 3-1 second choice, also rallied from off the pace to finish second, two lengths ahead of Outplay. Jamminwithbrandon, Tale of Silence, Wicked Macho, Local Hero, Lookin at Blessing, and Sonic Mule rounded out the order of finish.
Second in his February 18 debut and a follow-up maiden winner March 12 by 3 1/4 lengths, both at Santa Anita, West Coast next missed by a head to Senior Investment in the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland. He preceded this score with an allowance win at Santa Anita going 1 1/16 miles.
“We thought he’d run well. We were debating running in the Belmont [Stakes]. He didn’t convince us yet but he’s figuring it out.
“He’s ready to take on the top races. You have races like the Haskell (G1) or Travers (G1). We’ll see how he comes back. He needed to show me something like this. We were hoping he’d do this [before], because I wanted to run him in the Belmont, but he just didn’t sell me.”
Bred in Kentucky by CFP Thoroughbreds, West Coast was a $425,000 Keeneland September yearling. He is a son of Flatter and the 2000 champion juvenile filly Caressing, by Honour and Glory, and has earned $203,800.