Is Summer the New Time for Baffert Three Year Olds?

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D.S. Williamson

June 27th, 2017

For years, pretty much since 1996, Bob Baffert has been known as the King Trainer of the Triple Crown. Cavonnier finished second in the 1996 Kentucky Derby. In 1997, Baffert won the Derby and Preakness with Silver Charm. He repeated the feat in 1998 with Real Quiet.

Baffert's Triple Crown success took an incredible turn in 2015. That year, American Pharoah broke a close to 40-year Crown drought when he won the Belmont Stakes. But, Bob Baffert's 2016 was different. He didn't win a single Triple Crown race in 2016.

Instead, Baffert unleashed the best horse in the world in last year's Travers Stakes. Arrogate not only romped to a Travers Stakes win, he also beat California Chrome in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Classic. Then, Arrogate buried Chrome in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

Are the summer months now the time for Bob Baffert three-year-olds? Based on what I saw on Belmont Stakes Day, yes, they could be.

West Coast

From the A.P. Indy sired Flatter, West Coast didn't break his maiden until March this year. Instead of forcing West Coast onto the Triple Crown Trail, Bob took his time. Look what's happened?

After breaking his maiden, Baffert put West Coast into the Grade 3 Lexington. He finished second to Senior Investment. West Coast's next race was an allowance at Santa Anita. Baffert was so impressed with him that he shipped West Coast to Big Sandy to run in the Easy Goer Stakes on Belmont Stakes Day.

I get it. West Coast didn't beat the best of his generation in the Easy Goer Stakes. I don't care. I believe the Easy Goer was a prep for either the Travers or Haskell.  The way that West Coast responded to his Mike Smith's cues, starting, stopping, and then starting again around the turn, means that he's ready for prime time.

Don't be surprised if West Coast buries his better known competition in the Travers Stakes. He might be the horse that Bob sends to Saratoga for a try at the Mid-Summer Derby.

American Anthem

American Anthem looked great winning the Woody Stephens Stakes on Belmont Day. He tracked a strong pace about 4 lengths off before pulling away for an impressive win. Because the Woody Stephens is at 7 furlongs, there's some question as to whether or not American Anthem wants to run a route of ground. After all, he failed miserably in both the Rebel Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby.

Like with West Coast, I'm not worried. American Anthem's dad is Bodemeister. Bodemeister's sire is the great Empire Maker, himself a son of Unbridled. American Anthem's mom is Indy Wind. Indy Wind was sired by A. P. Indy.

American Anthem should comfortably get 1 1/2 miles. He definitely shouldn't have an issue running 1 1/4 miles. What happened in the Rebel and Santa Anita Derby? I don't think the horse was ready mentally.  Not all three-year-old horses mature on the same time table. American Anthem could be a late bloomer ala Arrogate and Tiznow.

Both American Anthem and West Coast were more impressive on Belmont Stakes Day than Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit, and Belmont Stakes second place finisher Irish War Cry. Are the summer months the time for Bob Baffert three-year-olds? We'll soon find out!