Saturday’s Travers Stakes at Saratoga was supposed to help Eclipse Award voters narrow down the 3-year-old male division. It was the first time in 35 years that all three Triple Crown race winners got together in the Mid-Summer Derby, and, mirroring that 1982 running, none of the three crossed the finish line in front.
Instead, it was once again a Bob Baffert-trained colt ridden by Mike Smith to return the triumphant victor. It may not have been the tour-de-force Arrogate demonstrated last season, Bob Ehalt wrote on thoroughbredracing.com, but West Coast was much the best over the top contenders in his division.
“I don’t know in the history of the Travers if you’ve ever had a Belmont winner, a Preakness winner, a Kentucky Derby winner, a Haskell first- and second-place finisher and a Jim Dandy first- and second-place finisher and some other Grade 2 winners in the same Travers,” said owner Gary West. “I don’t know if you’ve ever had a Travers field as competitive as this race was. I don’t know who is a good racehorse who didn’t show up today.”
To Ehalt, West Coast’s performance earned the son of Flatter the leading position in the race for champion 3-year-old.
“Given all of the parity this year, with Always Dreaming being the only one of the Travers starters with more than one Grade 1 win (he also captured the Florida Derby), it would seem that a victory in the Saratoga Showdown has propelled West Coast to the head of the division,” Ehalt wrote. “Especially with Always Dreaming finishing a weak ninth, Cloud Computing eighth and Tapwrit eight lengths behind West Coast in fourth (…) Actually, there’s little doubt that West Coast is the one to catch as fall approaches.”
Read more at thoroughbredracing.com.
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