The signs are pretty clear. Gary and Mary West's West Coast is a different animal than he was early in his 3-year-old season.
"He's changed a lot," trainer Bob Baffert said of the Flatter colt, now a two-time grade 1 winner after back-to-back scores in the Travers Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) and the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). "He's matured. He looks like a grown man now. He's not too big, but he's strong. He's filled into his frame."
The developing physical maturity will be needed, as West Coast will step up and race against older horses for the first time in the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar. He began his workout preparation for the 1 1/4-mile test Oct. 8 at Santa Anita Park, where he covered four furlongs in :48 4/5 in his first work since the Sept. 23 Pennsylvania Derby.
"It was really nice," Baffert said of the drill. "He went really well, looked great, and did it the right way."
As of Sunday Baffert is expected to have three other horses in the Classic along with West Coast—defending race winner Arrogate, TVG Pacific Classic (G1) victor Collected, and Awesome Again Stakes (G1) winner Mubtaahij.
"That's what we're hoping for, but you hate to jinx yourself," Baffert said. "As long as they're healthy and sharp, it's going to be a busy saddling paddock. This is when we start gearing them up. It's like getting ready for finals week."
Likely off the list for a Classic run is Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) winner Cupid, who came in fourth in the Awesome Again last time out Sept. 30. The Coolmore-owned 4-year-old Tapit colt is instead under consideration for the Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
"I'm thinking about the Dirt Mile, but still need to talk to Coolmore," Baffert said. "The Mile could work for him."