July 19, 2018

Baffert ‘encouraged’ by Arrogate despite Pacific Classic defeat

Arrogate missed by a half-length to stablemate Collected in the Pacific Classic (Benoit Photos)

The morning after Bob Baffert’s Collected upset odds-on stablemate Arrogate in the Pacific Classic (G1), their Hall of Fame trainer was still looking on the bright side for the world’s top-ranked horse.

Yet as Del Mar publicity reported, Baffert’s mixed emotions postrace –“I feel like my older son got beat by my younger son” – were in evidence too.

After all, champion Arrogate’s stakes winning spree in the Travers (G1), Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), Pegasus World Cup (G1) and Dubai World Cup (G1) propelled him into the recordbook as North America’s all-time leading earner. His summer schedule revolved around the Pacific Classic as his lead-up to a Breeders’ Cup title defense over the same Del Mar track and 1 1/4-mile trip.

But whither Arrogate now, after a listless fourth in his San Diego (G2) comeback, and a hard-trying second, if not quite up to his lofty standards, on Saturday?

“They both came out of the race well, and that’s important. I watched the race a few times and Collected still won,” the quipmaster added to the media gaggle’s amusement.

“Arrogate looked like he just ran in spurts the whole way around, but I was encouraged by the way he laid it down the last eighth of a mile and showed some willingness to win.

“He’s not back to where he was, but he showed some class and heart.”

While Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate always had the Breeders’ Cup Classic as his year-end goal, Collected has run his way into the $6 million championship with the Pacific Classic being a “Win & You’re In.” He’s now four-for-four on the year for Speedway Stable, the nom de course of Peter and Ann Fluor and Kane C. Weiner.

Arrogate is expected to train up to the Classic, but Baffert is leaving the door open about whether Collected might get in another prep.

Baffert wishes he could pitch camp at Del Mar straight through to November, but that’s not an option.

“It’s too bad they couldn’t just stay here and train until the Breeders’ Cup,” Baffert said. “That would be the perfect scenario. Collected really likes it down here, you can keep him in an (outdoor) pen and he flourishes out there.

“And it would give Arrogate a chance to get used to it down here.”

That last comment underlines Arrogate’s form at the moment, compared to his peak from last August through March. And it ties into a hot topic for racing fans and observers on social media, with speculation swirling about whether Arrogate just does not take to the Del Mar surface.

Clocker Bruno De Julio’s view, however, is that there’s a physical basis at the root of it all, not simply dislike of the track.

 

 

 

Perhaps Baffert is banking on getting that sorted out over the next couple of months. If he does, we could see the old Arrogate come November 4.

In another Pacific Classic postscript, trainer John Sadler confirmed that third-placer Accelerate will stick to his original plan and point for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) on November 3. Third in last year’s Dirt Mile as a three-year-old, he posted a career best when routing the 1 1/16-mile San Diego two starts back.

“He ran a good race, we’re happy with his effort,” Sadler said. “I don’t think he’s a true mile-and-a-quarter horse. So he’ll drop back to the mile distance for the Breeders’ Cup.”

 

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