12:35 BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC (GRADE 1) (3YO+) (DIRT) 1M2F ATR
The $17 million earner, Arrogate, broke from the outside of nine in the Classic last year, feathered over and outgunned California Chrome to earn a championship. But, then everything changed.
In the most altering move on the American scene since, well, the Breeders’ Cup, Arrogate stayed in hard training for the Pegasus World Cup in January. He won that easily. Then stayed in hard training to win the Dubai World Cup in March.
Back at it in July (busy for the new sit-and-wait approach taken in this country), Arrogate returned for the San Diego at Del Mar and got pummeled, winding up fourth behind Accelerate, Donworth and Cat Burglar (yeah, that murderer’s row of greatness).
Brushed aside as a fluke, Arrogate came back to the scene of the crime and lost again, this time, eking out a half-length second behind Collected. A shadowy looking horse, he was suddenly a shadow himself – yes, the mighty had fallen.
Now, the question is, has the mighty returned? Jury? Jury? Jury? Do you have a verdict, jury?
Baffert hasn’t waited for the jury, gunning Arrogate through seven breezes, including a bullet seven-furlong drill in 1m25.40sec on October 23th and another bullet five-furlong ripper in a minute on October 30th.
This year, Arrogate breaks from the rail, which gives Mike Smith the one and only option he had in the Pegasus – go.
Smith will hover long and low and urge Arrogate to get a position going into the first turn. There is no room for passivity and Smith will seize the moment, engaging Arrogate and asking him to establish a foothold on this most precarious rock. Now, can Arrogate seize the moment? Jury, jury, jury…
Beyond Arrogate, the 2/1 favourite, comes the best still standing.
Gun Runner rides a three-race Grade 1-winning streak into the Classic. The four-year-old son of Candy Ride finished second behind Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup, but things have changed since. Gun Runner won three times, taking three straight Grade 1 stakes, while Arrogate lost twice. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner could have his breakout day.
“He’s the perfect weapon,” Asmussen said after Gun Runner won the Woodward at Saratoga. He’ll have to be in the Classic.
Beyond the big two, Aidan O’Brien entered War Decree, who looks like company for Arrogate and/or West Coast, and O’Brien entered Churchill.
The latter owns seven wins from 12 starts but has never raced on dirt. If you’re circling names on a pedigree page, you can’t do much better than Storm Cat when it comes to dirt. He’s the sire of Meow, the dam of Churchill, so that can only help.
We asked this before, how good is Mike Smith’s business? He took off West Coast, winner of five in a row, including the Grade 1 Travers in August, to ride Arrogate. A logical decision but still a precarious one.
As for Baffert, he comes gun blazing for the Classic, sending out Arrogate, West Coast, Mubtaahij and Collected. They have combined to win 26 races and over $26.6 million.
SELECTIONS: Gun Runner, West Coast, Arrogate
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