The 2017 Pegasus World Cup cemented one living legend, while signalling the end of another.
Initially the oddsmakers had given the popular California Chrome the benefit of the doubt and made him the slight favorite. But by the time the race began, Arrogate had moved in as the 4/5 favorite with California Chrome holding 6/5 odds as the eventual second choice. The two would exchange early blows right from the onset.
Noble Bird took the field out as the pace setter with 30/1 odds of his own, and was trailed by Neolithic who had settled in at 23/1. Arrogate and California Chrome were next in position, trailed solely by War Story. Shaman Ghost was a few lengths back as the next in line ahead of the remainder who never stood a chance. One of the biggest shocks early on in the 2017 Pegasus was that Keen Ice had slipped all the way to the back and was very much a non-factor.
Clocking at :23.46 and :46.14 for the first two fractions, the pace itself was blistering but Arrogate was set up perfectly for a crash course down the final stretch. When pressed by jockey Mike Smith, Arrogate tore off and took the lead only to open up a cavernous gap between him and the rest of the field. California Chrome was urged on by Victor Espinoza, but simply didn’t have it in him today. It was a runaway victory for champion Arrogate, who solidified himself as the newest big ticket on the block.
California Chrome would slip all the way to 9th in the 2017 Pegasus World Cup during what is now known as the final race of his career. It wasn’t the storybook ending that his connections and fans had hoped for. “It looks like he scrambled away from there and couldn’t get his footing,” trainer Art Sherman noted. “It looked like he wasn’t getting a hold of the racetrack, like maybe his feet were getting out from under him. I don’t know why. He worked good over it.”
Smith was interviewed by NBC following the victory and was quick to point out that, “Once I got out going into the far turn, I knew we were going to be very tough to beat. He had a lot of run today and I was very happy. As far as winning the world’s richest race, I’m absolutely numb.”
It’s hard not to be happy with the lion’s share of the $12 million purse that came along with the 2017 Pegasus World Cup. This was exactly the start that Bob Baffert and the horse’s owners were hoping for, with the Dubai World Cup expected to be his next stop. Imagine winning two races totally $22 million to start the season? It’s unbelievable.
But that’s exactly what Arrogate has become. The reigning Breeders’ Cup Champion and 2017 Pegasus World Cup Champion drew a television rating of approximately 1.25 million with an all-sources handle of just over $40 million. Eyes and interests will be keenly fixated on Arrogate as he continues to storm the season.
As for California Chrome, it’s a quiet end to an otherwise boisterous career. Though the 2017 Pegasus World Cup didn’t unfold the way Sherman had planned, at the very least California Chrome escaped uninjured. He has settled in at Taylor Made Farms where he will begin a lengthy and prosperous second career at stud.