Time for Arrogate to shine once again

Author: Geoffrey riddleSat, 2017-11-04 03:00ID: 1509743575659257600LONDON: A few days before Arrogate won the Dubai World Cup in March American owner Jerry Crawford said that the only way to beat Prince Khalid Abdullah’s roan colt was to call up Walt Disney and get the best fantasy writer to pen you an improbable story. How things have changed. Arrogate is not even favorite for the 34th Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar in California in the early hours of tomorrow morning. His electric triumph over Classic rival Gun Runner following a disastrous start at Meydan invited comparisons with the great Secretariat. Since then he has been wrapped in the cotton wool of uncharacteristic defeat.  A lackluster fourth in the San Diego Handicap in July preceded a more encouraging second to stable companion Collected, who also runs, in the Pacific Classic a month later. Arrogate is the fallen hero bidding for a final shot at redemption before he is packed off to stud.  Thankfully he is in the hands of Bob Baffert, the trainer who has won the last three Classics. Arrogate struck 12 months ago with his dogged victory over the extraordinary California Chrome, and followed in the hoofprints of Baffert’s American Pharoah and Bayern. Prior to those successes Baffert’s record in the $6 million contest was always close, but no cigar. Baffert has not reached his 64 years without learning from experience, however, and although Arrogate suffered both of his defeats at Del Mar, there is the suspicion it was all in the planning. The Dubai World Cup was Arrogate’s third tough win in a row, after his victories in the Classic at Santa Anita and the inaugural Pegasus World Cup in Florida. Baffert gave Arrogate four months off before his reappearance in the San Diego, and over an extended mile Arrogate “ran out of real estate.” While no horse has won the ten-furlong Classic having run in the Dubai World Cup in the same season, at least Baffert has afforded the world’s highest-rated horse the best chance of becoming the first. “I think through the years, just experience dealing with everything, I think I’ve gotten a little better at it,” Baffert said.  “I rethink the way I prepare them. Sometimes you got to have something left for the fall but I think I’ve become a better manager.  The older you get, you just get better at it.” On Monday Arrogate drilled five furlongs in a minute flat at Santa Anita in the company of a work horse. It was the best work of the 19 who galloped over the distance.  It not only signaled that he might be ready, but that, perhaps crucially, he needs competition to be interested in the twilight of his career. Make no mistake. Most of those who will be crammed in to the temporary grandstands for the first Breeders’ Cup at the small and intimate Del Mar will want Arrogate to win. At the post position draw on Monday there was an audible sigh in the room when the world’s highest-earning horse of all time drew the inside rail in stall one. Arrogate has won from the inside gate previously — in the Travers last August and Pegasus World Cup in January, and jockey Mike Smith is sure to be aggressive once the gates open, without actually taking the lead.  Only Tiznow in 2000 and 2001 has won the Classic back-to-back, and while Gun Runner has been hovering up Grade 1 prizes in high summer it has to be questionable whether he will have enough puff at the end.  Arrogate arrived in Del Mar cloaked in darkness in the early hours American time. It was hardly the way a champion should roll in to town. It is time for him to shine, one last time.
Main category: Sports

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