Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Baffert uncorks Azul Coast

December 09, 2019 01:57pm

Following McKinzie, the “Three Amigos” of Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman may have another serious 3-year-old in the offing given Azul Coast’s debut victory Sunday at Los Alamitos.


Trainer Bob Baffert, who won a personal record five straight races on Saturday’s card, made it six consecutive victories for the barn the next afternoon when this son of Super Saver was squeezed at the break, yet made a visually impressive rally to prevail by four lengths on debut.


Given connections, the sire and a $320,000 purchase price, this colt is fit for the Kentucky Derby Radar, which seeks to introduce the type of horses who look eligible to head to the points-paying preps.


Azul Coast registered just a 75 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory, with the two-turn mile completed in 1:38.59 over a “good,” sealed track. But plenty of ground was lost along the way.


First, jockey Drayden Van Dyke had to hold his mount up a bit when Azul Coast was squeezed at the start. To avoid some heavy kickback, Azul Coast navigated widest entering the first turn in a field of seven.


But Jeffnjohn’sthundr blew the bend, driving Azul Coast even farther out into the track. He settled up the back stretch, eventually hitting the half-mile pole still in last, but just 3 3/4 lengths off the leader.


A rally commenced in the turn as Azul Coast ranged up on the outside and kicked down the long Los Alamitos stretch, circling each of his rivals in a hand ride.


Super Saver, the 2010 Kentucky Derby winner, relished wet tracks. But this colt’s pedigree, with Sky Mesa the dam sire, isn’t all roses. Laurie Ross, analyst for Horse Racing Nation, notes that Azul Coast was bred on the same cross that produced I Spent It, the 2014 Saratoga Special winner. She thinks he’ll handle 1 1/16 miles, but perhaps talent could carry Azul Coast farther.


There’s also the Baffert factor. This spring, he’ll be gunning for a sixth victory on the first Saturday in May, which would tie trainer “Plain Ben” Jones’ all-time record. Among Baffert’s other members of this crop worth watching into 2020 are Saturday’s Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) winner Thousand Words and Grade 1 hero Eight Rings.

 

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