Every day, we scour the work tabs at racetracks and training facilities all over North American searching for those horses that appear to be peaking at just the right time for a prime performance in the afternoons. Some of the horses that we track, you will recognize and know. Others, though, you may not — yet. Here is a closer look at some of today’s morning glories:

  1. West Coast, who is likely to win the 3YO Championship this year after a winning streak extended to five races in a row before his third place finish behind the grand Gun Runner in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar, was back on the training track this morning for conditioner and coach Bob Baffert. The son of Flatter breezed a half-mile in :47.80, which was the bullet out of 26 to go the distance at Santa Anita today. This guy is prepping for a run at Gun Runner again, in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in January. Can’t he find the lengths to upset? Only Baffert could manage this Christmas miracle.
  2. Paradise Woods, a 3YO filly who set the world on fire this spring when she ran away with an impressive and eye-popping victory in the Santa Anita Oaks, trained this morning at Santa Anita for Richard Mandella. She went 5Fs in an impressive 1:00 flat, which was the second best time out of 23 to go the distance. Paradise Woods ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff behind Forever Unbridled after setting all of the early fractions. She should show up next in a Stakes event at “The Great Race Place.”
  3. Dabster, who was my winter book bet to capture the 2017 Kentucky Derby only to drop off the trail with some hoof issues, has returned to the track in style. He won on Friday’s undercard for the Breeders’ Cup and is now training impressively for the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on the day after Christmas. This high-priced son of Curlin breezed 5Fs in 1:00.20, which was the 4th best time out of 23. Look for this guy to start really making an imprint on the racing scene of 2018. He has the ability to be a real good one.
  4. C Z Rocket, who is undefeated in three career starts to date and seems to be pointed toward a showdown with Dabster in the Malibu, worked this morn at Santa Anita, too. he went a half mile in :47.80 — which was the bullet out of 13 to go the distance. This guy has been ultra impressive to date, but will be stepping into Stakes Company — much less Graded Stakes company — for the first time. It will be interesting to see how this son of City Zip handles the new rivals. He has not been challenged yet.

Never got to collect on this one.  But I did cash the Friday before Breeders’ Cup 2017. Nicely.