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It has been a crazy world for the 3-year-old colts this season.  From the beginning of the year, it has seemed as if none of the highly acclaimed and touted colts wanted to stay in the spotlight for very long.  A big win always has been followed by a disappointment. Nobody seemed to want center stage.

Until now.

On Saturday, Gary and Mary West’s talented colt West Coast stomped the field in the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby and stamped himself as the top 3YO colt in all of North America — including the East Coast, the West Coast and every coast that we still have after the torrid hurricanes of 2017.

Trained by Bob Baffert, the best in the land, and ridden by Mike Smith, who suffered a brain fart in the Cotillion aboard Abel Tasman, West Coast bided his time, made a huge move into and out of the final turn and rolled away to an impressive 71/2-length victory over Irap and Giusippe the Great.

Immediately after the race, Irap — winner of the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, the Ohio and Indiana Derbies, and most recently third in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga behind West Coast — was pulled up.  He was diagnosed with a fractured sesamoid in the left front ankle, and was stabilized on the track.  He is scheduled to undergo surgery today in hopes of setting the injury and allowing him time to recover.

It appeared that Irap may have some issues in the final turn when he veered sharply to the inside, causing several horses to steady and pull up.  Yet, despite a steward’s inquiry into the incident, the placings were left, as is.

In front of the fray and out of harm’s way was West Coast. Cruising as if he was Hanging 10 on the perfect wave.

‘This horse is just getting better and better,” Baffert said. “We thought he would run a big race, and he was calm in the paddock. He is just a big boy. It was nice the way he ran. He did it pretty easily.”

West Coast sat second to the outside of front running Outplay and the two took the field into the first turn, while Game Over followed three wide in third with Timeline fourth and Irish War Cry fifth.

Irap sat patiently in sixth and the rest of the field of 10 followed, after a half-mile was run in 47.24. West Coast put a head in front of the pesky Outplay as the duo went three quarters of a mile in 1:11.18. Outplay, in fact, inched his way back to the front, as Smith — being patient on this mount — allowed his colt to run along unhurried and uncontested.

Midway into the turn, though, Smith and West Coast took off — together. Within a few strides they were easily in front of a tiring Outplay, as Irap, and a late charging Giuseppe the Great was making a move from ninth.

Irap took a few erratic strides in mid-stretch, and with Mario Gutierrez trying to straighten his course, the rest were strung about to his inside. All the while, West Coast lengthened his advantage, and Irap settled for second a length ahead of Giuseppe the Great, who once again outran his long odds.

West Coast finished the 1 1/8 mile affair in 1:49.91 for his fifth straight victory and his second consecutive G1 win. The romp was the second Pennsylvania Derby victory for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who saddled Bayern in 2014.  On that day, his horse ran a record setting time of 1:46.96.

“I felt real good on the first turn, Baffert said. “Mike had him in a good position kept him on the outside. I told him don’t go near the rail. At the 3/8ths pole he had a lot of horse and I was afraid he was going to get a little bored out there [West Coast]. He’s just learning how to run and to have a 3-year-old this time of year and the way he won the Travers and now winning this race he is going to be horse to reckon.”

For Smith, it was a bit of redemption after allowing his heavily favored Abel Tasman to run off with a powerful move on the backside to only tire in the stretch and lose the Cotillion to It Tiz Well. He went to the inside in that race. He was instructed not to in the PA Derby.

“He is really a good horse,” Smith said. “He is just better than they are right now, as far as 3-year-olds go.”

Now, in seemingly the same style and fashion as he did with Arrogate a year ago, Baffert is headed towards the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a talented, 3-year-old newcomer that appears to be hitting his best stride.

Yet, it may be back to the drawing board with Abel Tasman — winner of the Kentucky Oaks and nearly every other race that she has been entered in the past three months. She entered the Cotillion on such a roll, that it appeared she may never lose again. But for the second straight race, Smith allowed the filly to run off once she made the backstretch.  She got away with it in her last race at Saratoga, but her move was so powerful and so lengthly in the Cotillion, it zapped her off any closing kick.

As a result, It Tiz Well simply bided her time, took advantage of the misplay and edged clear in midstretch.  Amazingly, Abel Tasman had enough guts and glory to hold second.

It Tiz Well, under jockey Drayden Van Dyke, covered the 11/16-mile distance in 1:43.67 for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

“Very satisfying,” said Dan Ward, assistant trainer to Jerry Hollendorfer. “She has been running good races and improving all the time. I thought we had a good chance. I thought we might get that trip. She did a super job.”

The victory was the first Grade 1 victory for the daughter of Arch, and came after she failed to hold off Elate in the Grade 1 Alabama. It was her third graded stakes win after she captured the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks two starts previously. Her first came in the Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park on March 11.

“She ran today like she ran at Delaware Park [July 8, Delaware Oaks],” Van Dyke said. “Set off the pace and relaxed, and when I called upon her she responded. She was perfect. When I saw Mike [Smith aboard favorite Abel Tasman] coming up on the inside, and I sat off her and waited and they kind of went away from me for a few seconds and she was there for me the whole time.”

Abel Tasman, the 1 to 2 favorite trying to stretch her streak of three Grade 1s to another, was well off the pace in the early stages after the first quarter in 23.26, and the half-mile in 47.27. Unlike the bold early move she was given by Smith in her last victory, the Coaching Club American Oaks, the filly by Quality Road seemed to take her own approach to beating her foes and sparked a high speed cruise along the rail to catch and confront Lockdown at the end of the backside.

With Lockdown to her outside, the duo hit the top of the stretch, and the crowd believed they were seeing the rest of Abel Tasman’s launch to victory. Instead Lockdown, running a more favorable distance today than she had in her sixth place finish in the 1 1/ 4 mile Alabama, had more left in the tank.

And, It Tiz Well was a strong foe to their outside. Van Dyke went to work, and inched away as Lockdown and Abel Tasman along the rail path tried to hold her off. It Tiz Well eased away to a lead of two lengths at the wire, while Abel Tasman, now succumbing to her early might, held on for second ¾ of a length over Lockdown. Mopotism closed well for fourth.

“I didn’t want to take it that soon,” Smith said. “I was hoping to get on the lead. She has been breaking slow of late than she wants to gather herself up and wants to catch up at one time, too much to do. I could have stayed way wide, but I would have been to wide and she still would have wanted to make that move and I would have been to wide, the inside is wide open and she was pulling me so hard and she just took me there and I thought maybe she could pull it off from here but it was too much to do. She’ll be fine for the Breeders’ Cup. It wasn’t one of her best but she ran well.”

Baffert wasn’t so amused. Now Baffert may shed the blinkers Abel Tasman has been wearing in an effort to calm her down during the early stages. “She got real rank with him (Smith), she took off with him it, and it was unfortunate. It was a ridiculous run. We just we might have to take the blinkers off. I guess we just have to turn the page.”