Derby/Cotillion Updates


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
Keith Jones
kjones@parxracing.com

Grade I’s Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Stakes Contenders Settle In at PARX (Bensalem, Pa., Thursday, September 21, 2017) This Saturday’s Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby morning-line favorite West Coast and the Grade 1 Cotillion morning-line favorite Abel Tasman took to the track early on Thursday morning in preparation for their chance to serve as the winner of each $1 million purse at Parx Racing. The pair underwent an easy gallop around the track amid the watchful eyes of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert a little more than 12 hours since they landed in Lehigh Valley International Airport early Wednesday night. Both were stabled at barn 8, their temporary base which serves as the home to trainer John Servis’ string, and once housed the champion Smarty Jones, 2004 dual Classic winner of the Derby and Preakness Stakes and runner-up in the Belmont Stakes. Servis immediately played the role as host by offering two from his staff of riders to help perform the morning riding duties for Baffert’s runners. Baffert and his strong duo entered this weekend make up a trio of first time visitors to Parx Racing. The trainer who has saddled Triple Crown winner American Pharoah as well as almost 2,800 other winners in his storied career likes what he sees. “I can’t believe it. It’s very nice, Baffert said. “This is my first visit here and I am so very impressed with the barn area.” While becoming accustomed to his new surroundings Travers winner West Coast went to the track shortly after 9 a.m., and galloped a mile under exercise rider Yeris “Jerry” Ortega who was pleased with the colt’s performance. “He is a very, very classy horse, a smooth goer,” Ortega said. “He went out and did his job. Bob [Baffert] wanted me to go nice and easy, about a mile. It was good. He was very relaxed, liked the track and he got good traction on it and he went very well. Very impressed with him and you don’t get that many opportunities to ride a horse like this. It’s a great opportunity to be part of the team.” West Coast’s introduction to the track was also pleasing to Baffert, who liked what he saw from his colt. “He went nice and easy like the filly,” Baffert said. “Its quiet out there he was hitting, and looked good on it. It’s soft, and they like that soft going. It’s a lot softer than back home. Saratoga was kind of soft.” Gary and Mary West’s West Coast is in search of his fifth straight victory after he was guided to an early lead under Jockey Mike Smith, sat amid a modest pace, and repelled a late challenge in the stretch to draw off and win the $1 million Travers by 3 ¼ lengths. The front-running style helped the colt by Flatter earn his first Grade 1 victory, but his effort showed his versatile running style after he had shown to be a closer previously with a late running style that earned him victories in both the Grade 3 Los Alamitos Derby and Easy Goer Stakes. As far as a race strategy goes, Baffert won’t make any decision, but will leave that to his Hall of Fame coworker, Mike Smith. “I leave that up to Mike, he’ll just play the grade, as long as they run their race. My job is getting them there healthy, and the rest, if they’re on their game then it’s up to Mike to get them there so I ‘ve got the hardest job, to have them ready otherwise if they’re not ready it doesn’t matter what Mike does, but to me they both look great. West Coast is the morning line favorite for the Derby at 8 to 5. Abel Tasman, the first of the pair to go to the track galloped a mile among the first sets out on the track in the early morning. The filly by Quality Road showed her class under exercise rider Nelson Calo. “She went nice, did a lap around there,” Baffert said. “She jogged part way, went a nice and easy gallop about a mile. She was fine. The filly by Quality Road is in search of her fourth straight win and Grade 1 victory after she debuted with blinkers after her second place finish in the Santa Anita Oaks and responded by capturing the Kentucky Oaks, Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks in succession. Calo, employed just eight months as a rider for John Servis relished the opportunity to ride a filly such as Abel Tasman. “She went nice, did a lap around there,” Baffert said. “She jogged part way, went a nice and easy gallop about a mile. She was fine.” Calo, employed just eight months as a rider for John Servis relished the opportunity to ride a filly such as Abel Tasman. “Very, very impressive, a nice horse, just a smooth goer, Calo said. “I was excited to get on her, just awesome. They told me yesterday that maybe I was going to get on her, and I said, oh, I have to man. We just galloped around, went nice and easy to the wire, then galloped around back to the wire. It’s nice to be a part of this, we have good horses here, and I’m in a good spot.” Abel Tasman is in search of her fourth straight win and Grade 1 victory after she debuted with blinkers in the Kentucky Oaks following her second place finish in the Santa Anita Oaks. She responded by capturing the Kentucky Oaks, Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks in succession, and the switch to blinkers, a recommendation by her rider Mike Smith, has turned her into a horse of a different caliber. "They made a big difference, and she's been training really well since,” Baffert said. “We ran her once, and I didn't want to change a thing. Mike said she really needs blinkers after the race, and he confirmed it when he worked her after. He said she changed, and she was pretty good before that." Abel Tasman worked a solid four furlong breeze at Santa Anita on Monday clocking 48 seconds under a handily drive before departing for Pennsylvania on Wednesday. The Derby will be her 10th career start. Abel Tasman is morning line favorite at 8 to 5. Trainer Doug O’Neill will saddle three on led by Reddam Racing’s Irap, the second choice at 3 to 1 in the Pennsylvania Derby. The Tiznow colt is fresh off his third place finish in the Travers on August 26. The winner of the Grade 3 Ohio Derby and Indiana Derby was shipped to Parx from Saratoga following the race, and has been training well according to O’Neill’s assistant trainer Sabas Rivera. “We’re very happy with him,” Rivera said. “He is feeling well and the way he has been going especially this morning, he has been galloping good. Tomorrow [Friday] we’ll jog him and that’s it. We’ll have to save some energy for Saturday. We have a lot of confidence in him and hopefully we’ll get good results [Pennsylvania Derby].” Calumet Farm’s Term of Art, also by Tiznow, enters following his seventh place finish in the Grade 3 Los Alamitos Derby on July 15. Third in the Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes on June 26, it had been six races since his last victory, a 1 ¼ length win in the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes at Del Mar to finish out 2016. “He is doing okay. He was given a little rest [after his seventh place finish in the G3 Los Alamitos Derby, July 17] and went to the farm for a little while and is looking good.” Term of Art is 20 to 1 on the morning line. The O’Neill team will also saddle Mopotism in the Cotillion, and look to rebound off her seventh place finish in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga. The filly by Uncle Mo is still in search of a graded stakes victory, and owns victories in just her maiden breaker at Santa Anita, and her victory in the Island Fashion Stakes at Sunland Park, her second start of 2017. The filly may just need a change of luck to aid her chances on Saturday according to Rivera. “She went out for a one mile and a quarter gallop this morning around 7:00 a.m. She is doing well and with a little bit of luck she’ll run big. She has been training very well here since we shipped in after Saratoga.” Mopotism is listed at 20 to 1 on the morning line for the Cotillion.