We’re just a mere week from the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and the excitement is beginning to rise as the contenders turn in their final works.
Once again, I shine the spotlight on a Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) contender who I feel has a big chance of not only running a huge race, but also has the ability to win at decent odds. This week we look no further than multiple Breeders’ Cup Classic winning trainer, Bob Baffert. Of his Classic contenders, the Baffert trainee I’ve chosen to spotlight might surprise you.
If you had asked Baffert four months ago which of his charges had the best chance to win the Classic, he’d most likely have said the 2018 Triple Crown Champion, Justify. If you asked him eight months ago, he might have said McKinzie. But if you ask him now which of his horses has the biggest chance of winning next Saturday evening, he may quite possibly say West Coast.
This son of Flatter is ultra-consistent. He’s only finished out of the exacta once in his career, and that was a third-place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to the likes of Gun Runner and Collected. He’s won six of his 12 starts and his career earnings are well over $5 million dollars.
The Gary and Mary West-owned West Coast has danced all the dances in his short 12-race career. He is looking for his first win of the season, but he’s already earned over $2 million dollars in his three starts this year. He began the year with a second-place finish in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) to Horse of the Year, Gun Runner. He then ran second in the Dubai World Cup (G1) to fellow spotlight horse and Classic contender, Thunder Snow. In his last start in the Awesome Again Stakes (G1), he again ran second, this time to probable Breeders’ Cup Classic favorite, Accelerate.
West Coast fits the mold of horses I’m looking to play in the Classic. I love betting horses that have versatility and have shown they can overcome adversity. Like most of my spotlighted horses, West Coast is very tactical. He can be on the lead if the pace is slow, or he can be in his preferred stalking position.
Another attribute I love about this classy colt is the fact he doesn’t need to take his track with him. He’s never finished out of the trifecta while running at nine different tracks on two different continents. He’s the type of horse who will run his race regardless of the track condition, pace scenario, or weather.
Though he seems to be the bridesmaid in the Baffert barn, he might be sitting on the biggest race of his career. This year’s Classic is the most wide-open field I’ve seen since Drosselmeyer won in 2011. Depending on the post position draw, he could be sitting in a perfect stalking position on the outside, or – if the pace is slow – he has the ability to wire them.
West Coast has been firing strong work after strong work in preparation for Saturday’s Classic. In his last four works he’s blazed four furlongs in :47.20, six furlongs in 1:11.80, five furlongs in :59.40, and a best of 32 other horses working four furlongs on the same day, in a time of :48 flat.
Going into the Classic, there isn’t a horse training any better than West Coast. He looks to be peaking at the right time, and if his last few works are any indication of how well he’ll run, then he might just finally be the bride on the biggest day of the year.
Photo of West Coast courtesy of NYRA