Gary and Mary West’s West Coast went wire-to-wire under Mike Smith to capture the Travers (G1) on Aug. 26 at Saratoga, leaving a talented field of 3-year-olds in his wake.
Ben Glass, on behalf of the Wests, paid $425,000 for the Kentucky-bred son of Flatter at the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Hermitage Farm.
“Everyone on the team really liked him a lot,” Glass said. “He was so athletic-looking and had such a great athletic walk.
“I love Flatter and he (West Coast) had such a great family,” he said. “I’m a good friend of Bill Landes (general manager at Hermitage Farm) and he also really liked him. And Bill really knows how to raise a good horse!”
Glass said they went a bit higher than they planned when it took $425,000 to get West Coast at the September Sale. “You know, you don’t get many horses for what you are expecting to pay, but that’s the game. To be honest, I looked him up and we had him pegged at $350,000. We really liked him so we bid over our target price.”
In the Travers, an eager West Coast broke sharply and was hustled to the lead by Smith, setting the pace through sensible fractions. Despite a late challenge, Smith never had an anxious moment, turning the colt loose in the stretch to post a 3¼ victory.
It was a Keeneland sales trifecta with fellow September Sale graduates Gunnevera closing for second and Irap finishing third.
West Coast’s win in the Travers is the second consecutive for trainer Bob Baffert, who won last year with champion and September Sale graduate Arrogate.
“They said, ‘Listen, you ride him however you want, and he’ll put (in) a big effort,’ and that means I could do whatever I wanted,” Smith said. “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.”
The Travers was the fourth consecutive victory for West Coast, who was unraced at two. He broke his maiden at second asking at Santa Anita in March, then was a good second in the Stonestreet Lexington (G2) at Keeneland in April. He captured the Los Alamitos Derby (G3) in his last start prior to the Travers.
West Coast’s dam, champion Caressing, won the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) en route to divisional honors. She was a September Sale graduate herself, selling for $180,000 to agent Mike Ryan.