West Coast emerged as a force during the second half of the year, posting convincing victories in the Travers (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1), and concluded his sophomore campaign with a respectable third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Voters recognized his late-season excellence by naming the Gary and Mary West-owned colt champion 3-year-old male.
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It marked the second straight year, and only the third time since 1975, a 3-year-old has earned championship honors after missing the Triple Crown. And Hall of Fame conditioner Bob Baffert, who is second all-time with 12 Triple Crown race wins, has trained the last two with Arrogate taking home the 2016 Eclipse Award after smashing tallies in the Travers and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Tiznow, the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, completes the triumvirate.
West Coast didn’t make his career debut until February 18 of his 3-year-old season, debuting at two turns with a runner-up finish versus maiden special weight rivals. After coming back to graduate on March 12, scoring by 3 ¼ lengths in a 1 1/16-mile event at Santa Anita, he jumped straight to stakes company with a head second in the April 15 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland.
Baffert decided to take his time with a confidence-builder, eschewing possible targets like the Preakness (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) in favor of an entry-level allowance/optional claiming event at Santa Anita on May 20, and West Coast kicked off a five-race win streak with a front-running decision.
He returned to stakes company with a convincing tally in the Easy Goer on the Belmont Stakes undercard and notched his graded win taking the Los Alamitos Derby (G3) a month later. West Coast took it right to his rivals while making his Grade 1 bow in the 1 ¼-mile Travers, leading wire-to-wire recording a 3 ¼-length decision in the “Mid-Summer Derby.”
West Coast continued his ascension with a 7 ¼-length triumph in the September 23 Pennsylvania Derby and recorded an even third making his first attempt against elders in the November 4 Breeders’ Classic at Del Mar. The Southern California-based colt registered outstanding BRIS Speed ratings of 112-108-110 in his last three starts.
An earner of $2,083,800 from a 9-6-2-0 record, West Coast appears poised to make a significant impact in 2018.
By the Claiborne Farm stallion Flatter, West Coast was bred in Kentucky by CFP Thoroughbreds. The bay passed through 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale, bringing a final bid of $425,000, and hails from the Honour and Glory mare Caressing, who was named champion 2-year-old filly in 2000 following her svictory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). West Coast is a half-brother to a pair of Grade 3-placed runners, Gold Hawk and Juan and Bina. And his half-sister My Goodness has produced Japanese Grade 3 victor Danon Legend.
Caressing is out of the multiple stakes-winning Lovin Touch, a daughter of 1969 Kentucky Derby winner Majestic Prince.
Saturday’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park is next for West Coast and with the impending retirement of Gun Runner, he rates as a leading contender for Horse of the Year and champion older male honors in 2018.