Ar­ro­gate bests ‘Chrome’ in Clas­sic to emerge as new star

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

ARCADIA: Ar­ro­gate surged past Cal­i­for­nia Chrome in the clos­ing yards Satur­day to win the $6 mil­lion Clas­sic and stamp him­self US flat rac­ing’s new su­per­star.

The late-bloom­ing gray three-year-old was run­ning against older horses for the first time in the mar­quee event of the 13race, $28 mil­lion Breed­ers’ Cup pro­gram.

He gave trainer Bob Baf­fert a third straight vic­tory in the Clas­sic and a 14th Breed­ers’ Cup win.

Mike Smith nabbed his 25th Breed­ers’ Cup win-stretch­ing his lead among all jock­eys. But it took ev­ery­thing Ar­ro­gate had to get past the ex­pe­ri­enced Cal­i­for­nia Chrome, who won hearts with Ken­tucky Derby and Preak­ness vic­to­ries in 2014 be­fore he fell short of a Triple Crown with a fourth place in the Bel­mont Stakes. The flashy ch­est­nut has been resur­gent in his five-year-old sea­son, win­ning all six of his starts prior to the Clas­sic.

With Vic­tor Espinoza in the irons, he was in prime po­si­tion at the top of the stretch and ap­peared to have re­pulsed Ar­ro­gate’s charge un­til the fi­nal strides.

“Deep down, I wasn’t re­ally sure if we could beat Cal­i­for­nia Chrome be­cause I still have to­tal re­spect for the horse,” Baf­fert said. “Down the back­side it looked like Cal­i­for­nia Chrome was get­ting ev­ery­thing go­ing. I thought maybe (Ar­ro­gate’s) not run­ning. “Turn­ing for home, I thought well, I’m go­ing to run sec­ond-but the eighth pole, all of a sud­den he started get­ting into that gear .... ”With Cal­i­for­nia Chrome’s rac­ing ca­reer now wind­ing down, Ar­ro­gate showed his stun­ning 13 1/4-length vic­tory in the Travers in Au­gust was no fluke. “That was in­cred­i­ble,” Smith said. “I’m at a loss for words. He’s such a young horse. He’s so tal­ented. He has got amaz­ing stamina. He doesn’t quit. He could have gone around again. He’s in­cred­i­ble.”

Cal­i­for­nia Chrome took sec­ond, a whop­ping 10 3/4 lengths ahead of third-placed Keen Ice. “It was great,” Espinoza said of Chrome’s gal­lant ef­fort. “He’s an awe­some horse. I was all by my­self in the front and thought I could save some­thing for the very end. Think­ing back, I should have just let him run early, but he ran great.”

Ear­lier Satur­day, Baf­fert won the Breed­ers’ Cup Sprint with Dre­fong-rid­den by Martin Gar­cia af­ter Smith opted off the horse in fa­vor of the more ex­pe­ri­enced Masochis­tic, who fin­ished sec­ond.

Smith also came up on the los­ing end of a Distaff thriller on Fri­day-when six-year-old Be­holder si­lenced bril­liant three-year-old filly Song­bird with a win at the wire.

“It’s al­ways go­ing to hurt,” Smith said. You hate to get beat, es­pe­cially the mat­ter of maybe an inch (but) this was in­cred­i­ble to­day. This horse ran a race to­day that you just don’t see things like this from a three­year-old that has only run five times.”

There was plenty of glory for Smith over the two days of Breed­ers’ Cup ac­tion-start­ing with his win in the Dirt Mile on Ta­markuz on Fri­day and in­clud­ing a win aboard Finest City in the Filly & Mare Sprint.

HIGH­LAND REEL DOM­I­NATES

It was a tough two days for Euro­pean raiders but their two vic­to­ries in­cluded an im­pres­sive tri­umph for High­land Reel in the $4 mil­lion Turf. Leap­ing out of the gate with Sea­mus Heffernan aboard, the Ai­dan O’Brien-trained horse swept to a wire-to-wire vic­tory in the 1 1/2-mile race. Flintshire was sec­ond while O’Brien’s Found-who led sta­ble­mate High­land Reel across the line in the Prix de l’Arc de Tri­om­phe-was third in her Turf ti­tle defense.

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