The highs and lows of the sport were on display in Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1), as West Coast roared to an easy win that greatly enhanced his credentials for the three-year-old championship, while rival Irap, who finished second, was vanned off after suffering what on-site veterinarians called a lateral sesamoid fracture of the left front.
Favored at 9-10 in the field of 10 off a wire-to-wire score in last month’s Travers (G1), West Coast kept the pressure on Outplay through the first six furlongs, alternating leads with that rival through fractions in :23.20, :47.24, and 1:11.18.
Resuming control approaching the quarter pole, West Coast opened up decisively under Mike Smith in upper stretch and rolled to a 7 1/4-length victory in a time of 1:49.91 for nine furlongs over a fast track. Owned by Gary and Mary West and trained by Bob Baffert, West Coast paid $3.80.
“I felt real good on the first turn,” Baffert said. “Mike had him in a good position kept him on the outside. I told him don’t go near the rail. At the three-eighths pole he had a lot of horse and I was afraid [West Coast] was going to get a little bored out there. 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 horse to reckon.”
Irap, the 3-1 second choice who made a wide bid entering the stretch, lugged in badly at the furlong pole and bravely finished with courage despite incurring the injury. Winner of the Blue Grass (G2), Ohio Derby (G3), and Indiana Derby (G3) earlier in the year for owner J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill, he had been third to West Coast in the Travers.
O’Neill later revealed on social media that Irap was “resting comfortably” and was to have surgery on Monday at the New Bolton Center.
Finishing a length behind Irap was Giuseppe the Great, who was followed by Game Over, Talk Logistics, Outplay, Timeline, Irish War Cry, Term of Art, and Watch Me Whip.
West Coast has won four consecutive stakes and six of eight overall since the start of his career February 18. Second that day in a maiden event at Santa Anita, he rebounded to graduate the following month, and in mid-April missed by a head in the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland. That, so far, has been only stakes loss and his only once in the interim. Following a May 20 allowance win at Santa Anita, West Coast has rattled off facile wins in the $150,000 Easy Goer, Los Alamitos Derby, and Travers. With this win, his earnings have ballooned to $1,543,800.
Bred in Kentucky by CFP Thoroughbreds, West Coast was a $425,000 Keeneland September buy. He’s by Flatter and out of Caressing, the Honour and Glory filly who was named champion of her division at age two in 2000.