Champion Caressing, Dam Of Champion West Coast, Dies At Age 23

Champion Caressing passed on Sept. 14 at Hermitage Farm due to laminitic conditions.

She is buried at Hermitage between the paddocks next to the foaling barn, where she devoted so much time to watching future champions grow.

Caressing, a dark bay mare foaled in 1998, was purchased as a yearling for $180,000 on behalf of Carl F. Pollard. Sent into training with veteran trainer David R. Vance, Caressing was a winner in her second start as a 2-year-old and advanced in her third career race to the Bassinet Stakes, winning by seven lengths.

A 47-1 longshot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Caressing’s victory solidified her as the recipient of the 2000 Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly. She retired in 2002 with earnings of $955,998.

The highlight of Caressing’s career as a broodmare came in 2014 with foaling season coming to a close with a bay colt by Flatter born on May 14.

Upon visit from Keeneland prior to the sale, Frankie Brothers remarked, “He’s either going to blossom or he’s going to go the other way.”

The son of Flatter flourished at the right time and caught the eye of Ben Glass, agent for Gary and Mary West, at the sale, despite his late foaling date.

“But I just loved this colt,” said Glass. “He was so charismatic and carried himself so well. He had such a fluid walk he would slink along like a panther. He had good size and a great big overstep on him.”

The price limit for Glass was set at $350,000, but he stretched to $425,000 to bring home Caressing’s eighth foal from Hermitage Farm’s consignment.

Appropriately named West Coast, the Flatter colt moved to Santa Anita Park under the care of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. He did not race at two and finally debuted in February of 2017, taking two starts to win.

West Coast skipped the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown races entirely. However, he made a scene at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes day in the Easer Goer Stakes, winning by 3 3/4 lengths. West Coast returned to California for the Los Alamitos Derby to score by 2 3/4 lengths.

The 3-year-old then traversed the U.S. again for the “Midsummer Derby,” the prestigious Grade 1 Travers Stakes, at Saratoga, where he soundly defeated all three classic winners: Always Dreaming (Kentucky Derby), Cloud Computing (Preakness Stakes), and Tapwrit (Belmont Stakes). Now considered one of the top colts in the three-year old division, West Coast made his next start in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby to win by 7 1/4 lengths.

Piloted by Mike Smith in his subsequent stakes victories, Smith admired, “He’s just better than they are. As a matter of fact, he was getting bored.”

Closing out his 3-year-old campaign, West Coast faced older horses for the first time in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and finished a strong third. He was then voted 2017 Eclipse Award champion 3-year old male.

West Coast’s 4-year-old season ended winless in 2018, but his presence was still felt with runner-up finishes in the Grade/Group 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational, Dubai World Cup, and Awesome Again Stakes. He retired following the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic to Lane’s End Farm. His first foals are yearlings of 2021.

Caressing’s first foal, My Goodness by Storm Cat, has since become a prominent broodmare in the Japanese breeding Industry, producing colts Danon Kingly (Earnings: $4,469,755), Danon Legend (Earnings: $3,324,208), and Danon Good (Earnings: $1,231,688). Caressing’s other black-type earners include Gold Hawk and Juan and Bina.

She has a 2-year-old son of Honor Code, named Touch Code, in training at Saratoga with Trainer Bill Mott for Carl F. Pollard, and a yearling colt by Horse of the Year Gun Runner who will be retained.

The post Champion Caressing, Dam Of Champion West Coast, Dies At Age 23 appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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