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West Coast

West Coast

It had been 35 years since the three individual Triple Crown race winners squared off in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. This year, like in 1982, it wasn't one of them in the winner's circle after the “Mid-Summer Derby.”

In the 2017 edition, it was Gary and Mary West's colt, West Coast, who went wire-to-wire under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith to capture the important milestone August 26, leaving everyone in his wake including Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, Preakness victor Cloud Computing, and Belmont Hero Tapwrit.

It was the second consecutive Travers for trainer Bob Baffert, who sent Arrogate to Saratoga last summer. The Travers served as a launching pad for an incredible run for Arrogate, who now has earnings over $17 million including last year's Breeders' Cup Classic.

This year, an eager West Coast broke sharply and assumed the lead. Always Dreaming stalked in second and Cloud Computing was in the mix through a half in 48.12 with Irap, Gunnevera, and Tapwrit gearing up as they turned for home.

But West Coast and Smith never had an anxious moment, letting it out another notch to win by three and a half lengths.

"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 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 as a 2-year-old. He broke his maiden at second asking at Santa Anita in March, then was a good second in the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (G2) at Keeneland in April. He captured the Los Alamitos Derby (G3) in his last start prior to the Travers.

West Coast will now try to follow in his mother’s footsteps and become a Breeders’ Cup winner. His dam is champion Caressing, who won the 2000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies en route to divisional honors.

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