The Bob Baffert-trained West Coast has led all the way to win the Group One Travers Stakes at Saratoga which featured all three Triple Crown winners.
Ridden by Mike Smith, West Coast beat Gunnevara by 3-1/4 lengths to earn an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar in November.
Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit finished fourth, Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing was eighth, and Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming was ninth in the 12-horse field.
West Coast didn’t race as a two-year-old and did not run in this year’s Triple Crown series.
But the three-year-old colt has won four of six starts in 2017, including four in a row.
“When Bob texted me before the race he said, ‘Listen, he is yours, you ride him however you want,”‘ Smith said.
“So that kind of made me think I could get a little aggressive with him, and that is what I wanted to do with no pace in the race.”
Smith and Baffert won last year’s Travers with Arrogate, who broke a 37-year-old track record and won by 13-1/2 lengths.
West Coast’s win came after Smith had been beaten on 2-5 favourite Songbird in the Personal Ensign.
Forever Unbridled upset Songbird to win in a photo-finish and also earn a start at the Breeders’ Cup meeting.