CYPRESS, CA – Trainer Bob Baffert continued his 2017 dominance as West Coast rallied late to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Los Alamitos Derby at the Los Alamitos Race Course.
Heavily-favored at 2/5, West Coast and jockey Drayden Van Dyke broke next-to-last in the field of seven 3-year-olds while Cistron led the field through fractions of :23.73, :47.89, and 1:11.64, including a four-wide trip through the first turn.
When exiting the far turn while still sixth, Van Dyke sent the Bob Baffert trainee to the far outside of his foes. As the group straightened out for the home stretch, it first appeared that the Gary West-owned colt didn’t have the turn of foot necessary to engage, but once the field hit the 1/4 pole, West Coast suddenly found a new gear.
“I asked him a little on the turn and he wasn’t ready yet, but when we straightened for home and I hit him left-handed, he cut like no other and finished very strong,’’ said Van Dyke.
The pair rallied to a 2 3/4-length victory over Klimt, who nosed out B Squared and was a head in front of Colonist. Cistron, Kimbear, and Term of Art completed the order of finish. Milton Freewater was scratched.
Prior to his victory, West Coast had been an impressive winner of the $150,000 Easy Goer on the Belmont Stakes undercard on June 10 at Belmont Park.
“This horse is improving all the time,’’ said Baffert. “He’s starting to settle down. (Van Dyke) was instructed to wait, wait, and wait with him. If you go too early with him, he doesn’t finish. It was sort of a gamble to sit back there, but it paid off because you need to be patient with him. He took off the last 1/8 of a mile. He needs to learn how to run like that. Mission accomplished.”
West Coast returned $2.80, $2.20, and $2.10. Klimt brought back $$4.60 and $3.40, while B Squared paid $3.60 to show.