Gary and Mary West's West Coast once again put on an eye-catching display against his age group Sept. 23 in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1), and put himself in a position to seriously challenge top-level older horses later in the year.
With a pressing outside trip on early pacesetter Outplay, West Coast breezed by in the final turn to take command under jockey Mike Smith and was unchallenged in the stretch, en route to a 7 1/4-length victory at Parx Racing for trainer Bob Baffert.
"He is really a good horse," Smith said. "He is just better than they are right now, as far as 3-year-olds go."
Irap closed to pick up second, but had to survive an inquiry into the stretch run after he came in several paths and appeared to impede Game Over and others. Parx stewards did not make a change to the final result.
Irap also took an awkward step near the wire and was pulled up by jockey Mario Gutierrez soon after. Trainer Doug O'Neill said Irap fractured both sesamoids in his left front leg and will have surgery to repair the injury Sept. 25 at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa.
"Irap is resting comfortably in his stall. ... Prognosis is good," O'Neill said.
The victory was West Coast's fifth consecutive win, and all five have been at different racetracks. The Flatter colt began his streak in a May 20 optional-claiming allowance at Santa Anita Park, then took the June 10 Easy Goer at Belmont Park, came back to Southern California for a score in the Los Alamitos Derby (G3) July 15, and shipped again to take the Travers Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 26.
"This horse is just getting better and better," Baffert said. "We thought he would run a big race, and he was calm in the paddock. He is just a big boy. It was nice the way he ran. He did it pretty easily."
West Coast raced just a half-length off Outplay through a first quarter in :23.20, then put a head in front on the outside through a half-mile in :47.24. Outplay hit six furlongs first in 1:11.18, but didn't last much longer than that. West Coast opened up in the final turn, held a four-length advantage with a furlong to run, widening his lead in the stretch. The 4-5 favorite finished off the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:49.91.
"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 he was going to get a little bored out there. He's just learning how to run, and to have a 3-year-old this time of year—and the way he won the Travers and now winning this race—he is going to be (a) horse to reckon (with)."
Giuseppe the Great closed from ninth to pick up third, and was followed by Game Over, Talk Logistics, Outplay, Timeline, Irish War Cry, Term of Art, and Watch Me Whip, to complete the order of finish.