2017 Pacific Classic Arrogate Songbird

Arrogate Prepares For 2017 Pacific Classic

The combination of Arrogate’s brutal fourt place finish in the San Diego Handicap, along with Gun Runner’s recent win in The Whitney, has many people wondering just who the best racehorse in the country actually is. It’s a typical debate between talent and production. To regain his footing in the discussion, Arrogate needs a top performance in the 2017 Pacific Classic.

Arrogate went back to work with his typical team in order to prepare for a race that should boast a very competitive field. Official splits for his recent drills included fractions of :25 1/5, :37 1/5, :48 2/5, 1:00 3/5, and 1:12 3/5. He was timed on the gallop out in 1:38 1/5. Everything seems to be pointed in the right direction.

“It was a serious work,” commented trainer Bob Baffert. “He didn’t need much encouragement. He’s showing no signs . He’s moving forward. I’ve seen a big difference in him since that last race. He’s back to his old self again.” This is good news for the horse that will undoubtedly enter the 2017 Pacific Classic as the favorite.

Jockey Mike Smith, who has ridden Arrogate for the brunt of his competitive career, also said that Arrogate, “Looked good. He galloped out strong.”

The field for the 2017 Pacific Classic is expected to include Accelerate, who handed Arrogate his first defeat in the 2017 San Diego Handicap. Collected and Curlin Road are also expected to fill the gates.

But the most anticipated rival to Arrogate will be Songbird, who has picked up two wins this year in the 2017 Ogden Phipps and the 2017 Delaware Handicap. This would be the second time in two years that the Pacific Classic featured a battle between the top male and female dirt runners in the world. Last year, California Chrome made short work of Beholder.

A month ago, this wouldn’t have even been up for debate. Songbird is an astounding talent, but Arrogate feels like he comes from another planet. However, there is a dent in that undefeated armor now and Arrogate’s strongest rivals will feel like there’s a chance to overtake the 2016 Horse of the Year. To be fair, Songbird didn’t look untoucachable in the Delaware as she barely outlasted Martini Glass for the win.

The 2017 Pacific Classic will run on Saturday, August 19th out of Del Mar Racetrack, the same venue as the 2017 Breeders’ Cup. We’ll have more coverage in the next two weeks on the big race.

Arrogate Returns from Dubai Trip

World Champion Arrogate made the return trek to his Santa Anita Park home base on April 1 and looks surprisingly well refreshed following a quarantine experience at Los Angeles International Airport after a 20,000-mile round trip to and from Dubai.

Arrogate was in Dubai to compete in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1), which he thrillingly won by 2 1/4 lengths. Before that he won the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1). The two monster wins made Arrogate the richest Thoroughbred in North America.

“He’s a little fresh,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. “We’ll back off of him for about 30 days. We’ll train him, but he won’t breeze for 30 days. He tells us what he wants to do. We’ll have to do something with him.

“He’ll run in the Pacific Classic (G1) and then the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) down there. He might run one time before that.”

Amongst the media gaggle and track officials was Arrogate jockey, and fellow Hall of Famer, Mike Smith.
“This is exciting, I’ve been praying since the race was over to get him back home. He had so much turbulence in the race, he didn’t need any in the air,” said Smith. “He’s like Muhammed Ali. He the best in the world!”

Arrogate has won four straight races, including the Dubai World Cup and Pegasus. The other two were the Travers Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He has now earned a record-setting $17,084,600.

Arrogate 2017 Dubai World Cup

Arrogate Wins 2017 Dubai World Cup

The 2017 Dubai World Cup was supposed to be easy going for the gambler. At 2/5, with nobody coming even close on the board, Arrogate was the runaway top choice off the morning line. Gun Runner and Mubtaahj were each 8/1 as second choices, with Hoppertunity valued at nearly double with 15/1 odds of his own. Everyone else was shelled with longshot marks. Essentially, this was a layup.

In fact, this challenge was anything but.

Arrogate broke dead last from the gate after a horrific start. Mike Smith later admitted that he totally missed the bell, and as everyone watched on, Arrogate was playing catch up behind the 14-horse field. The start was so poor that even Bob Baffert had to be holding his breath. “I was thinking, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have brought him. Maybe he’s getting tired,'” the trainer later recounted.

Then something truly remarkable began to unfold. Arrogate began to devour the track, but did it was such grace and confidence that it didn’t even seem real. As the race marched on, so did Arrogate. By the top of the stretch he still had work to do, as Gun Runner had battled all the way with Neolithic for the lead. That’s when Arrogate unleashed his trademark speed in the 2017 Dubai World Cup to take the win. And he made it look so easy.

It’s hard to put what Arrogate has done in the past year in to perspective. The win at the $10 million 2017 Dubai World Cup has now launched him to the top of the historical standings with $17,084,600 in winnings. He has won so many marquee races but the fact that the Triple Crown is not part of it detracts from his standing to mainstream fans. It’s much easier to sell American Pharoah as the “greatest in the modern era” but Arrogate is posting a tremendously difficult case. Should he win the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic as the defending champion, that debate will rage on for the rest of time.

As will Arrogate’s performance in the 2017 Dubai World Cup. Click below to witness it for yourself.

2017 Pegasus World Cup arrogate

Arrogate Dominant At 2017 Pegasus

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.

 

2016 Longines World's Best Racehorse

Arrogate Is 2016 Longines World’s Best Racehorse

It only took two races for Arrogate to prove exactly what he’s worth to this incredible sport. The now four-year-old champion has been awarded the 2017 Longines World’s Best Racehorse title, beating out California Chrome. He did the very same on the track when the two met at the Breeders’ Cup Classic in last season’s grand finale. That victory helped Arrogate earn enough points in the Longines rating system to win the award.

Arrogate totalled 134 points after the Breeders’ Cup Classic to beat out California Chrome, who had 133 points by season’s end. The body of work between the two is starkly different and may be a point of contention in how the 2016 Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings were determined.

To be fair, California Chrome competed in six races last year, going 5-1-0 throughout those challenges. That volume of work should, in itself, give him an edge in the 2016 Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings. The now six-year-old competitor won a Dubai Handicap, the Dubai World Cup, the San Diego Handicap, Pacific Classic and Awesome Again Stakes before placing second to Arrogate at the Breeders’ Cup Classic in a hotly anticipated showdown. California Chrome’s wins at the San Diego Handicap and Pacific were monumental at the time as well.

By comparison, Arrogate ran in only the Travers Stakes and the aforementioned Breeders’ Cup Classic. But his performances in those races were earth shattering. He broke a 37-year old track record in winning the Travers by 13 1/2 lenghts, and his speed rating at the Classic was one of the fastest recorded all year.

Finishing third in the standings for the 2016 Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings was Winx out of Australia, followed by Almanzor from France and Japan’s A Shin Hikari.

“It is a great honor and a thrill that the Breeders’ Cup Classic has been selected the world’s highest rated race of 2016,” said Craig Fravel, president of the Breeders’ Cup. “Arrogate and California Chrome put on a tremendous display for all of racing that day at Santa Anita Park, and to showcase such an exciting event on an international stage means so much to us. Bob Baffert said it best: ‘We are just so proud to have horses like these. It’s all about the horses.’ Our sincere thanks to the IFHA, and to Longines for their remarkable commitment to Thoroughbred racing.”

Arrogate and California Chrome will compete yet again in the 2017 Pegasus World Cup which offers a purse of $12 million. The race unfolds this Saturday, January 28th at Gulfstream.

2016 eclispe award nominees

2016 Eclipse Award Nominees Announced

The 2016 Eclipse Award nominees were announced on January 5th, and leading the way are California Chrome, Arrogate and Songbird who each earned nods for Horse of the Year.

Each of those oustanding performers also find themselves in the appropriate age/gender categories as well. California Chrome is one of the 2016 Eclipse Award nominees for Older Horse of the Year along with Frosted and Lord Nelson. It’s virtually impossible for either of those to build a case for outclassing California Chrome in this category.

Arrogate, who capped the season with an awesome Breeders’ Cup Classic victory, will contend with Exaggerator and Nyquist for the award given to the best amongst three-year-old colts. The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner and the 2016 Preakness Stakes winner have both since retired, while Arrogate is poised to have an incredible four-year-old campaign. Arrogate did not compete in the Triple Crown series, or any of the prep races, as a late bloomer who emerged out of nowhere at the Travers Stakes in August.

Songbird is in the three-year-old fillies category along side Cathryn Sophia and Queen’s Trust and the previously undefeated champion is more likely to win here than as the Horse of the Year. Had she fended Beholder at the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, there might be a genuine argument for her taking top honours.

A full list of the 2016 Eclipse Award nominees can be found below. The awards ceremony will be held on January 21st at Gulfstream Park.

Horse of the Year Finalists: Arrogate, California Chrome, Songbird
Two-Year-Old Male: Classic Empire, Not This Time  , Practical Joke
Two-Year-Old Filly: Champagne Room, Lady Aurelia, New Money Honey
Three-Year-Old Male: Arrogate, Exaggerator, Nyquist  
Three-Year-Old Filly: Cathryn Sophia, Queen’s Trust, Songbird
Older Dirt Male: California Chrome, Frosted  , Lord Nelson
Older Dirt Female: Beholder, Cavorting, Stellar Wind
Male Sprinter: A.P. Indian, Drefong, Lord Nelson
Female Sprinter: Finest City, Haveyougoneaway, Paulassilverlining
Male Turf Horse: Flintshire (GB), Highland Reel, Tourist  
Female Turf Horse: Lady Eli, Miss Temple City, Tepin
Steeplechase Horse: Rawnaq (IRE), Scorpiancer (IRE), Top Striker
Owner: Juddmonte Farms, Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Spendthrift Farm
Breeder: Clearsky Farms, Darley, WinStar Farm
Trainer: Bob Baffert, Chad Brown, Mark Casse
Jockey: Javier Castellano, Jose Ortiz, Mike Smith
Apprentice Jockey: Kevin Gomez, Lane Luzzi, Luis Ocasio

Juddmonte Purchases Coolmore’s Pegasus Spot

The rematch the horse racing community has been salivating over — Arrogate vs. California Chrome — is one step closer to happening thanks to Juddmonte Farms purchasing the Pegasus World Cup spot owned by Coolmore Stud.

Arrogate is owned by Juddmonte Farms and their agreement to purchase Coolmore’s spot in the first ever $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (gr. I) means Arrogate will be the one likely to run in the anticipated event, as Juddmonte confirmed he “will continue his preparation with that race in mind.”

No details, including how much it cost Juddmonte, have been released other than “it is for the 2017 Pegasus World Cup Invitational only.”

The only thing that could get in the way of an Arrogate-California Chrome rematch at Pegasus at this point is an injury to either horse. The two were last seen battling it out in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), which went to Arrogate, and it will be the last time they do battle before California Chrome retires to Taylor Made Farm next year.

“It [the Pegasus World Cup] is a great idea and anyone that comes up with an idea for a new race like this—and they’re trying to make something very, very positive happen in the racing industry in the month of January when usually nobody is talking about horse racing, it deserves at least consideration for as much support as we could give to it,” said Juddmonte Farms Manager Garrett O’Rourke. “All things being equal, we would definitely go because we just feel like this is something that obviously has a tremendous reward. It’s an idea that you would like to see being supported.”

Arrogate Surges Late to Capture Breeders’ Cup Classic

Arrogate Tops 2014 Preakness Winner California Chrome in BC Classic Stretch Duel

A record crowd of 72,811 turned out Saturday at Santa Anita for the biggest day of racing. The 2016 Breeders’ Cup had many exciting racing results, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic turned into a fantastic finish for racing fans. In what turned into a two-horse stretch duel, Arrogate challenged 2014 Preakness winner California Chrome and then surged late in the final strides to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the $3.3 million first place prize in the richest race.

Mike Smith aboard Arrogate in Winners Circle of Breeders' Cup Classic
Mike Smith aboard Arrogate in Winners Circle of Breeders’ Cup Classic

Arrogate, the brilliant 3-year-old star by Unbridle’s Song, chased California Chrome in the stretch, leaving the rest of the field in the dust. With a few whips in the late stages by jockey Mike Smith, Arrogate pulled past California Chrome in the final 100 yards to win the 1 1 ¼ mile race in a final time of 2:00.11.   

“When I did that, he gave me another jump,” Smith said. “That is what got us on by.”

WIN PLACE SHOW
10 ARROGATE $5.40 $2.80 $2.60
4 CALIFORNIA CHROME $2.60 $2.40
3 KEEN ICE $5.80

California Chrome had won six-straight races this year and is the all-time money winner in North America. He went off as the 4-5 favorite in the 10-horse field, while Arrogate was the 8/5 second choice in the BC Classic.

Arrogate trainer Bob Baffert, who won his third consecutive Breeders’ Cup Classic, was still surprised his star colt was able to overtake California Chrome.

“I was surprised I beat him,” Baffert said. “I didn’t think I could beat him going in.”

But Arrogate’s Breeders’ Cup Classic win sets him up as racing’s future star. His fifth-straight win was against horse racing’s best, and California Chrome may have just one race left in his illustrious 5-year-old career.

“You saw two champions run,” said Art Sherman, California Chrome’s 79-year-old trainer. “What can I say? We got outrun on the fair. No excuses. He ran his eyeballs out.”

Baffert chimed in with a final comment on Arrogate and the excitement that is the Breeders’ Cup.

“This horse is just learning how to run. California Chrome is a champion,” Baffert said. “To run down California Chrome, that’s what the Breeders’ Cup is all about, watching races like that.”

Fans enjoyed blue skies, sunshine and the beautiful backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains at Santa Anita. They wagered their money on their favorite horses too. The total on-track wagering Saturday at Santa Anita was $13,515,269, an increase of 3.5 percent from last year’s same day wagering total at Keeneland in Kentucky. The two-day on-track wagering total was $20,694,235.

Arrogate Awesome in Travers Stakes Triumph

Arrogate Sets Track Record with 13 Length Win in Travers

Jockey Mike Smith unleashed Arrogate as they turned for home in the $1.25 million Travers Saturday, and the nearly 50,000 fans at Saratoga and a NBC television crowd were about to witness a riveting finish and track record.

Saturday’s at Saratoga are usually special, but this day became awesome when Arrogate turned in a record time performance to annihilate 12 challengers and win the 147th running of the Travers Stakes. The final time covering 1 ¼ miles was 1:59.36, a track record for the distance and a new Travers record that was set in 1979 by General Assembly.

“He has a stride that is tremendous,” Smith said. “Although we were going quick, he was well within himself.”

Arrogate Travers Winners CircleSent off at 11-1, Arrogate moved to the lead at the half mile marker in a brisk 46.84 just ahead of stablemate American Freedom. Those two maintained their position around the far turn for trainer Bob Baffert, who had to be grinning ear to ear as his two horses came down the stretch. Especially the big gray Arrogate, who’s powerful and smooth stride extended the lead and continued his steamroll past the final furlong to win by 13 1/2 lengths.

“I was amazed how he lengthened his stride and opened up,” Smith said.

Arrogate paid $25.40, $12.60 and $8.40. American Freedom was second for $6.70 and $4.60.  Gun Runner finished third for a $2 trifecta payoff of $2,028. The $2 exacta paid $134.50.

“We ran into a freak today,” said Steve Asmussen, the trainer of Gun Runner. “He never slowed down.”

Preakness Stakes winner and race favorite Exaggerator was never a factor and failed to fire with his usual closing kick in finishing 11th. Belmont Stakes champion Creator didn’t close either and finished seventh.

“Turning for home, I sat back, and I just thought, wow, he is just what I was hoping he was like, and I knew there was no way they were going to catch him. He was just getting in gear,” Baffert said.

The Midsummer Derby was Baffert’s first Travers win since 2001 with Point Given. Arrogate won his fourth straight race and is 4-for-5. The lightly-raced colt by Unbridled’s Song has been brought along slowly, but he’s clearly special. Arrogate earned an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Classic November 5 at Santa Anita, as the Travers is a ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup race.

Arrogate won’t be overlooked when he returns to the West coast and makes his way to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. A star hit the scene Saturday at Saratoga, and reminded us that patience and preparation can payoff.

Travers Stakes preview

Preakness Winner Favored At Travers

The 2016 campaign has been a ridiculously profitable one for Exaggerator and his connections. Already at 6-3-1 in thirteen starts, this year’s Preakness champion has raked in well over $3.5 million. He could definitely add to his earnings, as well as his decorated trophy case, by cashing in at the Travers Stakes.

Heading in to the Triple Crown season, Exaggerator was a bit on the outside but began to gain steam closer to the spring. he demolished the Santa Anita Derby to become the second favorite in the Kentucky Derby and fell just short of upsetting Nyquist at the wire. He would go on to win the Preakness before finishing a strangely disappointing 11th at the Belmont Stakes. Many doubted that he would become the impact player that he is known as now, and a rebound effort at the Haskell Invitational re-affirmed his stock and talent.

Now Exaggerator is pointed towards this weekend’s Travers Stakes where he will battle a full field of fourteen other competitors. Already the 3/1 favorite, there is a lot of competition that is being very awkwardly valued by the oddsmakers. Even with so much racing done this year, Exaggerator’s expectations and workload have been expertly managed by Keith Desormeaux. It’s albeit impossible to assume that he’ll finish anywhere out of the top-three. There’s simply too much fight in this horse.

The main challenge to his crown, at least on the betting board at the Travers, is a horse named Connect who won the Curlin. Coincidentally, the namesake of that horse is also his father as well as the father of Exaggerator. At 3-0-1, the Chad Brown trainee remains an intriguing take and one that should find his way in to the mix one way or another.

Gift Box finds himself with 12/1 odds heading in to the Travers Stakes but has managed to hit the podium in all six of his races. With odds like that, he’s undeniably attractive and his results could very well justify padding a box bet with him included.

There’s also a buffet of very familiar faces in this race thanks to the publicity of the Triple Crown itself. Laoban is 15/1 after winning the Jim Dandy, while Belmont Stakes champion Creator and Gun Runner share those same odds. Governor Malibu, who was a new shooter in the Belmont and runner-up at the Jim Dandy, comes in at 10/1, odds he currently holds alongside Destin.

The rest of the field is a real dart board, but the one horse that many players are finding it nearly impossible to ignore is American Freedom because of his rousing performance at the Haskell Invitational where he came second to Exaggerator. As the third choice at the Travers with 6/1 odds, there’s a lot of upset potential here. If you’re looking for a savvy stand alone bet, then this is probably the best choice overall.

In no particular order, my favorite horses in this race remain Exaggerator, American Freedom and Gift Box. I’m willing to let Connect prove me wrong as there’s just not enough information on him to really take a swing considering how strong the remainder of the Travers Stakes field actually is. How you bet your money is up to yo, but some combination of those three is my preference.

Travers Stakes – Saratoga Racecourse on Saturday, August 27th (5:44pm EST)
1 1/4 Miles — 3 Year Olds — $1.25 Million

PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Arrogate Mike Smith Bob Baffert 10/1
2 American Freedom Rafael Bejarano Bob Baffert 6/1
3 My Man Sam Manuel Franco Chad Brown 50/1
4 Governor Malibu Joel Rosario Chris Clement 10/1
5 Forever d’Oro Luis Saez Dale Stewart 30/1
6 Anaximandros Leonel Reyes Mikhail Yanakov 50/1
7 Exaggerator Kent Desormeaux Keith Desormeaux 3/1
8 Destin Javie Catellano Todd Pletcher 10/1
9 Gift Box Junior Alvaredo Chad Brown 12/1
10 Connect John Velasquez Chad Brown 4/1
11 Majesto Gustavo Delgado Ricardo Santana 20/1
12 Creator Irad Ortiz Steve Asmussen 15/1
13 Laoban Jose Ortiz Eric Guillot 15/1
14 Gun Runner Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 15/1