10/25/2009 11:00PM

Trainer profile: Ted H. West


A career in this business was in Ted H. West's blood. The younger West cut his teeth working for his father, Ted West, a successful trainer on the Southern California circuit. The younger West was there learning the ropes, and the lessons stuck as the now 36-year-old has carved his niche on this tough circuit. Lessons from the father to the son never stop, however - the elder West, while retired, remains on hand as his son's assistant.

It didn't take long at all for the younger West to make an immediate impression. He took over his father's stable when the elder West retired in April 1999. Just seven months later, the racing world took notice as he nearly won the Breeders' Cup Classic with a horse who had once been a claimer, as Budroyale ran second to Cat Thief.

In fact, that former claimer and his 1999 season really put West on the map. That year, Budroyale also finished second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup, won multiple Grade 2's, and racked up more than $1.7 million in earnings.

His father had a great eye in the claiming game, and the apple didn't fall far from the tree. West has sensational first-off-the-claim numbers. In fact, he's an amazing 9 for his last 18 (50 percent), and it's not like they all come back as favorites, either.

It's that eye that resulted in another profitable claim. On the last day of 2002, West claimed a sprinter named Bluesthestandard for $50,000 and hit paydirt. Bluesthestandard was claimed for Jeffrey Sengara, for whom he had trained Budroyale. All Bluesthestandard would go on to do is earn $631,975 in 2003, winning the Grade 2 Potrero Grande at Santa Anita, the Grade 3 Texas Mile at Lone Star, and finish second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita. His strong form would continue in 2004 as he also chalked up the Grade 2 Palos Verdes.

It not just with claimers that West has found success. Honor Grades ran second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in 2002. A major runner to give West legitimacy was the wickedly fast Freespool. That son of Geiger Counter is one of the quickest horses to race in Southern California in the last 30 years or so (in terms of pure early speed, only Olympic Prospect and champion sprinter Chinook Pass may have been his only equals) and he could carry that speed. Freespool won eight races under West's guidance, including the Grade 3 El Conejo at Santa Anita. In fact, he won that race twice in 2000 (once on Jan. 2, then when it was renewed next season on Dec. 31). Freespool also won stakes at Bay Meadows, Del Mar, and Turf Paradise.

West may be best known for his claiming prowess, but he has had success up and down the class ladder. He's been winning at a rate of 13 percent in maiden claimers, 23 percent in straight maidens, 26 percent in claimers, 20 percent in allowance ranks, and 16 percent in stakes. He may not have a Budroyale, Bluesthestandard, or Freespool in his barn now, but he still can be well represented in stakes, particularly sprint stakes. Talkin to Mom Roo has elevated his game to the point that he's faced multiple Grade 1 sprint winner Zensational. Ashley's Kitty has held her own against some of the better sprinting females on the circuit.

The old guard is still around, to be sure, but those who play the Southern California circuit had best know there is a group of younger horsemen ready to challenge the names with which we've become accustomed. And West is one of them.