Azul Coast tracked a moderate pace early, ranged up nearing the turn for home and fired smartly through the lane to come away a half-length winner of the $100,500 Native Diver Stakes (G3) on Nov. 20 at Del Mar.
The 4-year-old Super Saver colt ran nine furlongs in 1:50.55 under leading rider Flavien Prat and met leading trainer Bob Baffert in the winner’s circle following the 44th running of the stakes named for California’s first million-dollar earner. In his first outing since finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes on Oct. 2, Azul Coast was last early in the field of six through the opening quarter mile in :23.74 and only had one horse beaten as pacesetter and stablemate Ax Man reached the half-mile mark in :48.41.
“We were in a good spot for the whole trip,” Prat said. “I could tell the pace was only moderate, so I moved him up closer near the three-eighth (pole). Then when we went, we were in good position and he was ready. A good win.”
It was stakes win No. 77 at Del Mar for Prat and stakes win No. 147 for Baffert. The trainer’s mark is far and away the most by a conditioner in the history of the seaside oval. Prat has 12 wins through 10 days of the current session, while Baffert has eight.
“’Azul’ runs his best races down here,” Baffert said. “He likes this track and he ran really impressive. When I ran him in the Awesome Again he just laid an egg, he was up there close and I was really disappointed, but he was chasing Medina Spirit. I had no idea how it would setup, they were all on their own. I told the jockeys (he had three horses in the race) you guys ride your own races and hopefully we’ll run 1-2-3. I’m happy for the connections, the well has been a little dry lately. Main thing is that we got the ‘w’…”