Hall of Famer trainer Bob Baffert doesn’t ship horses to Keeneland very often, but when he does, it’s wise to pay attention. Since the beginning of 2015, he’s sent six horses to run at Keeneland and five of them have finished in the trifecta, including Collected, who won the Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes at Keeneland Race Course last spring.
Baffert will have a strong chance to win the Lexington again this Saturday when he sends out #10 West Coast against nine rivals. The well-bred son of Flatter made his debut on Feb. 18 at Santa Anita Park and finished a strong second behind stablemate Bronze Age. A little less than a month later, he won a similar race at Santa Anita by 3 ¼ lengths, though he defeated just two rivals while looking less impressive than in his first start.
Notably, West Coast did not wear blinkers in that race after wearing them in his debut. The blinkers will be back on for the Lexington, and I expect to see West Coast step up with a sharper run. His early speed should help him work out a perfect trip in a race that doesn’t appear to have that much pace.
West Coast’s biggest competition could come from #5 Time to Travel, who makes his debut around two turns following a pair of strong efforts sprinting at Gulfstream Park. In his debut, Time to Travel finished a good fourth behind the next-out winners Timeline and Giuseppe the Great (both very promising colts), and on April 1 Time to Travel won a seven-furlong maiden race by a decisive 4 ¾ lengths.
As a front-runner, Time to Travel might find himself on a fairly easy lead in the Lexington, which would help his chances of successfully stretching out in distance. His pedigree suggests that the 1 1/16 miles distance of the Lexington is within his capabilities,
#3 No Dozing should also be in the mix. The son of Union Rags has competed in four straight graded stakes races, including a fourth-place finish behind Tapwrit, State of Honor, and Wild Shot in the Grade 2 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 11. Trainer Arnaud Delacour has a strong record at Keeneland and won the 2015 Lexington Stakes with Divining Rod, who was also coming off a run in the Tampa Bay Derby. No Dozing should appreciate the easier competition in the Lexington and ran well at Keeneland when fourth in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity last fall – and as an extra benefit, he will be ridden by Joel Rosario, who is off to a great start at the current Keeneland meet.
For a live longshot, I would consider #2 Souper Tapit. In his debut on Feb. 18 at Fair Grounds, Souper Tapit turned in an eye-catching performance, rallying from last to first on the far turn to defeat next-out winner Multiplier in a strong effort. A month later, Souper Tapit contested an allowance race at Fair Grounds where he faced a talented field of older horses, and though he could only finish fifth after a slow start, it wasn’t a bad effort by any means. A sharper break from the starting gate might be all Souper Tapit needs to secure better early position and contend for a spot in the trifecta.
With all of this in mind, let’s bet West Coast to win (assuming he goes off at no less than 5-2) and make him our key horse to finish in the exacta and/or trifecta:
Wagering Strategy on a $15 Budget
$6 win on #10 West Coast ($6)
$2 exacta: 10 with 2,3,5 ($6)
$1 exacta: 2,3,5 with 10 ($3)
Wagering Strategy on a $25 Budget
$10 to win on #10 West Coast ($10)
$1 exacta: 2,3,5 with 10 ($3)
$1 trifecta: 10 with 2,3,5 with 2,3,5 ($6)
$0.50 trifecta: 2,3,5 with 10 with 2,3,5 ($3)
$0.50 trifecta: 2,3,5 with 2,3,5 with 10 ($3)
Good luck, and enjoy the race!