Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes - Gr. 1
Arrogate dominates Pegasus World Cup
Just after Arrogate came over to the paddock at Gulfstream Park on Thursday afternoon for a schooling session for the Pegasus World Cup on Saturday, trainer Bob Baffert spoke briefly with jockey Mike Smith. As they parted, Baffert called to Smith, “Just don’t [mess] it up.”
Baffert knew. He knew that despite all the rainy weather he had to navigate in Southern California, he had Arrogate, as he said earlier in the week, “super cherry” for the richest race ever run.
And then Arrogate went out and put the cherry on top of this $12 million sundae. He powered home in dominating fashion, winning by 4 3/4 lengths in a race where his primary rival, California Chrome, ran poorly and exited the race with an injury to his right knee.
There were 12 horses in the race, but the anticipated match race between the two best horses in the world never materialized. California Chrome finished ninth, beaten 29 1/2 lengths, in the final start of his career. The result of the Breeders’ Cup Classic – in which Arrogate had run down California Chrome -- had been confirmed, and then some. All hail Arrogate.
“He’s a superior racehorse,” Baffert said. “He has a stride that’s just incredible.”
Arrogate used that stride to leave a struggling California Chrome in the dust more than three furlongs from the wire. Once Arrogate took the lead from the early pacesetter, Noble Bird, the only question was the margin of victory, and the final time. He completed 1 1/8 miles – one lap around Gulfstream Park’s main track -- on a surface rated fast in 1:46.83, a new track record.
Shaman Ghost rallied for second, 3 1/2 lengths in front of Neolithic, who pressed the pace of Noble Bird and held on for third. Keen Ice was fourth and was followed, in order, by War Story, Noble Bird, Semper Fortis, Breaking Lucky, California Chrome, Prayer for Relief, War Envoy, and Eragon.
Arrogate (4-5) was favored over California Chrome (6-5). He paid $3.80. Arrogate broke from the rail, and Smith rode him aggressively into the first turn to make sure he wasn’t shuffled back. Smith smacked Arrogate with the whip on his rump and on his shoulder several times in the opening strides, and Arrogate put himself in a terrific stalking position as the field went into and around the first turn.
California Chrome was marooned in the fast outside post. Owing to the short run to the first turn, jockey Victor Espinoza threw the reins at California Chrome leaving the gate to try and prevent him from being caught wide. He was five paths wide when he reached the first turn, but was able to slide over to the No. 3 path before the midway point of the turn.
As the field advanced up the backstretch, Noble Bird led narrowly over Neolithic, with Arrogate just behind them, and California Chrome just to Arrogate’s outside. It was seemingly an ideal spot for California Chrome to try and pin in Arrogate, but California Chrome had trouble keeping up shortly after passing the half-mile pole, and Smith was able to slide Arrogate off the rail to take dead aim on the two leaders three furlongs out.
“I saw Victor knuckling on him. I knew he wasn’t going to fire. Once I got out, I was loaded,” Smith said. “Victor had me where he wanted, but Chrome didn’t fire.”
Arrogate, as he showed in his victories in the Travers and Breeders’ Cup Classic, gets stronger as a race progresses, and this was no different. Once turned loose by Smith, Arrogate immediately opened daylight on his outmatched rivals. He was four lengths in front with a furlong to go, and Smith let him coast to the wire.
Photo by Susie Raicher
Photo by Mathea Kelley
Photo by Adam Coglianese
Photo by Adam Coglianese
Photo by Adam Mooshian
Arrogate - Pegasus World Cup 2017