The two leading candidates for Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), 2016 winner Arrogate and four-time Grade 1 winner Gun Runner, turned in their final works for the 1 1/4-mile test Monday morning.
Arrogate, last seen running second in the Pacific Classic (G1) in August, worked five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 in company with stablemate Hot Sean at Santa Anita.
Under Rafael Bejarano, Arrogate turned in split times of :12.20, :24.60, :36.20, and :48. Baffert said Arrogate, who broke about a length behind Hot Sean before passing him, responds well to having a target and that strategy would help sharpen him for the Classic.
“He looked great for him,” Baffert said. “I’ve been happy with all of his works. I don’t see why he wouldn’t run a big race.”
Gun Runner, who’s reeled off consecutive, dominating victories in the Stephen Foster H. (G1), Whitney (G1), and Woodward (G1) after running second to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup (G1), turned in a half-mile work at Del Mar in :49.40 under exercise rider Angel Garcia.
“He just looks fast and that’s what you want to see in a work like this and going into a race like this,” assistant trainer Scott Blasi said. “I was just talking to (trainer) Steve (Asmussen) and told him he just looked fast. He’s just getting over the ground so nicely. All Angel said is he just never moved. He just sat there on him and let him cover some ground. We were happy with it. I got him (in a text from the clockers) in 49 2/5, out in 1:02 2/5.
“Compared to last year, he’s just stronger He’s a bigger, stronger physical horse. I think that’s been the (significant) change. I think it’s a maturity thing.
“I think it says so much about his constitution and what he can handle mentally that he’s gotten better (since Dubai). The horse ships around and goes to the paddock and he’s always the same horse he was at the last racetrack.”
Also working for the Classic was the Baffert-trained Mubtaahij and Win the Space. Winner of the Awesome Again (G1) last time, Mubtaahij was clocked in :49.80 for a half-mile at Santa Anita, covering his first quarter-mile in :25.20 and galloped out five-eighths in 1:02.40.
Win the Space, trained by George Papaprodromou, completed a half-mile in :49.60. He was third in the Awesome Again most recently.
In other workouts Monday:
Defending TwinSpires Sprint (G1) champion Drefong went a half-mile in :48.60 at Santa Anita under Martin Garcia. He got his first quarter in :24.80 and galloped out five panels in 1:01.60.
“He couldn’t look any better,” Bob Baffert said. “He’s doing the best he’s ever done.”
Also working for the Sprint was last year’s third-place finisher Mind Your Biscuits, who sped a bullet three furlongs in :36.40 at Del Mar.
“It was all I was looking for,” trainer Chad Summers said. “I just wanted a blowout and we’re happy with it.”
Calculator completed his Sprint preparations with a five-furlong move in :59.80 at Del Mar.
Ballagh Rocks worked four furlongs on the Del Mar turf in :49.60 in advance of the Mile (G1), while Hogy finished up a half-mile in :50 on the main track in advance of the Turf Sprint (G1).
The Papaprodromou-trained Mr. Roary, hoping to make either the Mile (G1) or Turf (G1) field, worked four furlongs in :49.20 on the turf at Del Mar.