11/10/2010 12:46PM

West Ocean drops out of stakes for turf sprint allowance

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Photos by Z/Keeneland
West Ocean, winning the Giant's Causeway this past spring, takes a class drop into allowance company Friday at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – West Ocean might have fit well in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last Saturday, but discretion came into play. A far less demanding allowance race was just over the Churchill Downs horizon, and besides, her owners, the Wertheimer brothers of France, might have been a bit distracted anyway, what with their Goldikova shooting for – and ultimately achieving – an unprecedented three-peat in the BC Mile.

Six days later, West Ocean will take center stage at Churchill, albeit amid far less fanfare, when she comes heavily favored in the Friday feature, a $56,000 turf sprint with wide-open allowance conditions. Trained by Todd Pletcher, West Ocean will be trying to amend for a recent defeat as an odds-on favorite in the Franklin County Stakes at Keeneland.

“She broke a little flat in that last race, then had some trouble,” said Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy. “It wasn’t her best performance.”

West Ocean, a 4-year-old filly by Elusive Quality, is one of eight fillies and mares in a five-furlong dash that goes as the ninth of 10 Friday races. A $400,000 yearling who has earned back the majority ($344,540) of that purchase price from a dozen starts, West Ocean figures to benefit from her first try outside of the stakes ranks in more than a year when she breaks from post 7 with 23-year-old Michael Baze aboard.

If West Ocean doesn’t fire her best, the feature could fall to Go for Jan, a two-time turf-sprint winner here in the spring; Greeley’s Rocket, whose grass form is solid and whose trainer, Bret Calhoun, won the BC Turf Sprint with Chamberlain Bridge; or Selva, a classy filly who was beaten a nose for third by West Ocean in the Franklin County.

One other high-end allowance (race 4) also has been carded for Friday. It’s a $54,000, third-level, main-track sprint in which Simplify makes a rare dip out of the stakes ranks for Steve Asmussen. In her last crack at an allowance, her first after nine straight stakes berths, Simplify was beaten a nose for this same condition in a Sept. 11 race at Monmouth Park.

Simplify, with Shaun Bridgmohan to ride, is one of seven in the race, with Brown Eyed Baby, Ivory Empress, and Southern Accents being her main challengers.