July 16, 2018

Arrogate seeks rebound in eight-horse Pacific Classic

Arrogate winning the Breeders' Cup Classic with Mike Smith Photo by BENOIT

If Arrogate bounces back in the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1), we’ll never know what happened in the July 22 San Diego H. (G2) at Del Mar. The world’s top-ranked horse, Arrogate’s seven-race win streak came to a surprising halt last time, with the 1-20 favorite never firing in a well-beaten fourth-place effort, but he can shrug off the clunker by rebounding on Saturday.

Arrogate has been installed as the even-money favorite on the morning line among eight runners and the Pacific Classic holds added importance because November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic will be held at Del Mar. The San Diego raised concerns surrounding Arrogate’s affinity for the seaside oval and he can ill-afford back-to-back subpar performances.

The Pacific Classic serves as a “Win & You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Owned by Juddmonte Farms, the 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song will break from the far outside post with Mike Smith. Arrogate figures to appreciate the stretch back out to 1 ¼ miles, recording outstanding Grade 1 wins in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Dubai World Cup and Travers at the distance, and Bob Baffert has been encouraged by the gray colt’s preparations.

His main rivals include stablemate Collected, who will try 10 furlongs for the first time in terrific form. The Speedway Stable colorbearer returned from an 11 ½-month layoff this spring with a pair of facile wins in the Santana Mile and Californian (G2) at Santa Anita, and the 4-year-old delivered a dazzling romp most recently in the June 24 Precisionist (G3), registering a 111 BRIS Speed Rating for the 14-length decision. Martin Garcia retains the mount on the 5-2 second choice and the City Zip colt can show speed from post 2.

Accelerate seized the initiative at the start of the San Diego and was never seriously pressured leading wire to wire, drawing away in the stretch to a resounding 8 ½-length victory. That snapped a six-race losing skein, but the 4-year-old son of Lookin at Lucky has never finished out of the money since making his career bow and the three-time stakes victor has recorded triple-digit BRIS Speed numbers in five of his last six starts, including a whopping 111 last time. The John Sadler trainee is listed as the 3-1 third choice and it will be interesting to see Victor Espinoza’s early tactics given his starting spot to the immediate outside of Collected.

It’s a big gap on the morning line to the 15-1 Donworth. He held second while losing plenty of ground to Accelerate in the final furlongs of the San Diego and the 5-year-old will be seeking his first win since being transferred to Doug O’Neill last year, his lone stakes tally coming in an off-the-turf event at Delaware Park in 2015. Mario Gutierrez rides.

Curlin Road and Hard Aces, who were respectively separated by a nose in the 1 ½-mile Cougar II (G3) on July 26, are both 20-1 on the morning line. Rounding out the field are 30-1 outsiders Royal Albert Hall and Sorry Erik.

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