Trainer Bob Baffert was more solemn than celebratory after running one-two in Saturday’s $1,000,690 Pacific Classic (G1), as stable second-stringer Collected led throughout the 1 1/4-mile test while the heavily favored Arrogate ran second, an improvement over his dull try in last month’s San Diego H. (G2) but still far from the dazzling performances his worldwide fan base had become accustomed to seeing from him before the summer.
The 3-1 second choice off dominating wins in the Californian (G2) and Precisionist (G3), Collected seized the early lead under Martin Garcia and set sensible fractions of :23.76, :47:19 and 1:11.06. San Diego winner Accelerate, who brought a three-for-three mark over the track into the Pacific Classic tracked, a half-length behind through the first six furlongs. Arrogate, rushed into a stalking position by Mike Smith when the gates opened, settled in the three path entering the first turn and rated a length behind the leader down the backside.
Entering the far turn, Accelerate began applying stronger pressure to Collected while Arrogate, as was the case in the San Diego, came under a ride to keep up when beginning to lose ground. Not nearly as far behind this time as he was in the San Diego, Arrogate nonetheless didn’t pick up readily like he had in such sensational performances as the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and Dubai World Cup (G1) earlier this year.
Passing the quarter pole after a mile in 1:35.27, Collected had turned back the challenge from Accelerate. Arrogate, who appeared for a few seconds on the turn as if he wouldn’t catch either of the top pair, began to pick things up, grinded his way past Accelerate inside the furlong marker and took one last run at his stablemate. However, it wasn’t enough as Collected held on to win by a half-length in a time of 2:00.70 over a fast track.
“I liked where I was all the way around there,” Garcia said. “I could tell how fast we were going and my horse was relaxed. He felt so good, all the way around. When I asked him at the top of the stretch, he was running 100 percent worth. I hit him a few times, but he was giving me his all. I could feel Mike’s horse (Arrogate) coming. It was like an animal creeping up behind me. But we had enough to get it done.”
Owned by Speedway Stable, Collected paid $8. Arrogate was 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Accelerate, whom he finally beat for the first time in three tries. He had finished fourth, more than 15 lengths behind Accelerate, in the San Diego.
“If he just improves a little bit, we’ll be all right,” Smith said. “He was a lot better today than last time; just not good enough.”
Accelerate had 6 1/2 lengths on fourth-place finisher Curlin Road, who was followed by Hard Aces, Royal Albert Hall, and Donworth.
Arrogate, the 7-10 favorite here, has now dropped two straight after capturing his first four stakes appearances in scintillating fashion, beginning with a track-record shattering domination of the Travers (G1) last summer. He later added the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), clinching champion three-year-old honors with his score over California Chrome. He then became North America’s all-time leading money winner after victories in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup and $10 million Dubai World Cup, but has looked largely flat in his two tries at Del Mar, site of this year’s Breeders’ Cup.
“Arrogate, at least he tried today. He’s getting there, but I think that when I ran him in the San Diego it messed up his psyche a little bit,” Baffert said.
“I don’t think I have a problem bringing him back in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. But he’s got to be fresh, just like Collected came in here fresh. And Collected is a very good horse.”
By virtue of winning the “Win and You’re In” Pacific Classic, Collected earned an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He also pushed his career earnings to $1,260,500 from a line of 11-8-1-0.
A first-out winner on the turf at Santa Anita in October 2015, Collected next finished second in the Cecil B. DeMille (G3) on the Del Mar turf, then took the Sham (G3) at Santa Anita on dirt in his 2016 debut. Fourth in the Southwest (G3), he won the $415,000 Sunland Festival of Racing and the Lexington (G3) before finishing 10th in the Preakness (G1).
Collected returned to action in the $83,000 Santana Mile at Santa Anita, winning 3 3/4 lengths. He captured the Californian by the same margin, and preceded this career peak with a 14-length romp in the Precisionist.
Bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm and Peter Callahan, Collected was a $170,000 OBS March juvenile purchase and a $150,000 Keeneland September yearling. By the recently deceased City Zip, Collected is out of Helena Bay, by Johannesburg. Among the distant luminaries in this female family are French champion and noted sire Blushing Groom and Japanese champion Agnes Digital.