2/3/17 By Shawn Rychling
The inaugural $12 Pegasus World Cup went off at Gulfstream Park last week and Baffert’s new superhorse not only won, but did so in a fashion that cemented his position as the best horse in training over the past 6 months. And he earned about $7 million dollars for less than 2 minutes of work!
Arrogate was calmly ridden by Mike Smith rating along the rail and then, after they ran a half mile in front of him in 46.14 seconds, Arrogate responded when asked and made it look easy. He tipped outside into the 3-path, passed the leader, putting daylight between himself and that one by the 3/8thpole. Arrogate just expanded from there under no more than a vigorous hand ride (Smith might have hit him once with a left-handed whip) and was actually geared down late.
It was the third-straight win for Arrogate in three of the sport’s richest races – the Travers, Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Pegasus. And after a second look at the Pegasus with the Trackus system at Gulfstream, the final time was adjusted downward by .78 seconds meaning that Arrogate set a track record with a time of 1:46.83. In the Travers, he ran a track record of 1:59.36. So Arrogate now owns two track records – at Saratoga and Gulfstream – and he just turned four!
The Pegasus was supposed to be a showdown between California Chrome, the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, and Arrogate, but that never materialized as ‘Chrome’ broke from post 12 and was just too wide early to settle in and be a factor. He faded to 9th after chasing a hot early pace in the 4-path. That was California Chrome’s second straight loss to Arrogate – the first was much closer as Chrome led until the final strides and coming in the BC Classic. Prior to that race, Chrome had not been beaten since March of 2015. Chrome went right to the breeding shed after the Pegasus and he should be saluted on a tremendous career and his connections should be heralded as well for racing him as a 6-year-old.
As for the superhorse, Arrogate. All this comes for trainer Bob Baffert just a little over a year after he won the Triple Crown with the dominant American Pharoah, who also went on to romp in the BC Classic in his final race last year. Not to mention, Arrogate was wearing a special shoe to treat an abscess on his foot which occurred between the Breeders’ Cup and Pegasus. Arrogate has won on the lead like in the Travers and from off the pace while rating professionally in both the Classic and Pegasus. It will be interesting to see where this horse goes from here. He was a late bloomer due to some minor injuries, which his sire was prone to, but Baffert knows how to pick his spots and maximize a horse’s performance without overworking him. A superstar 4-year-old season would be fun to watch.
Back to Aqueduct where winter marches on and it’s now February! The sun is up longer and we are creeping toward spring. And Saturday marks the second of the four Derby preps at Aqueduct as the Grade-III Withers goes off. El Areeb is the favorite after an 11-length romp in the Jerome, the opening Derby prep for 2017. But there are plenty of horses in the field with room to improve including True Timber who ran pretty evenly against El Areeb in the Jerome, but can improve on a fast track. Apartfromthecrowd moved forward sharply to break his maiden last time and we like his chances to improve.
Don’t forget, you can get all the Hot List analysis for this weekend’s Aqueduct action on the Interbets site right here.
Just 168 days until Saratoga opens!