Arrogate plays a World Cup waiting game
Prince Khalid to make decision on potential Dubai trip
Prince Khalid Abdullah will make a final call in the next few weeks as to whether Arrogate will race in the Dubai World Cup after his stunning success Saturday in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.
The four-year-old grey powered to victory in the world’s first US$12 million (Dh44 m) race by almost five lengths under jockey Mike Smith. He was so good he was eased down in the final 100 yards to beat Shaman Ghost and on that form the Dubai World Cup on March 25 looks like rich pickings.
Last week Bob Baffert said in London that Arrogate was set for a break and had been purchased by Prince Khalid’s Juddmonte Farm’s operation to race in America. A run in the Dubai World Cup was not on the table.
But it appears the door may well be ajar to Baffert trying to add to his two previous wins in the World Cup. His Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Drefong is set to contest the Dubai Golden Shaheen and Hoppertunity, who was third in the World Cup last March, is also in line to come over in a bid to go two places better. “We have to get him home and see how he is,” the American trainer told the Dubai Racing Channel. “The Prince wants to make sure whatever we do with him we want to make sure he is ready for the Breeders’ Cup Classic [at Del Mar in November]. We are prepared to go at all times, but we will let him and [manager] Garrett O’Rourke make that call.”
The son of Unbridled’s Song was bought at the Keeneland Sale in September 2014 for $560,000. Thanks to victories in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the $7m he picked up in Florida on Saturday his career earnings already stand at $11m.
Baffert obviously has the target of trying to mould Arrogate in to the first horse to win successive Breeders’ Cup Classics since Tiznow in 2001 and secure a record fourth straight win for his trainer.
It is difficult to see why Arrogate would not come to Dubai. The Pegasus World Cup replaced the Grade 1 Donn Handicap that was used as a prep by Dubai World Cup winners Cigar, Captain Steve, trained by Baffert, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid’s Invasor.
By contesting the World Cup, Arrogate would have to prove that he can race against a solid international field without the use of Lasix, the anti-bleeding drug, something few American horses have on their CV.
The benefit of a trip to Dubai would also mean that, were he to prevail, he would eclipse California Chrome as the highest-earning North American racehorse.
There is $3.66m between the two. The first prize at Meydan is worth $6m.
Horses owned by the Saudi Arabian prince have not been regular visitors to Dubai, with Flintshire’s second place in the Dubai Sheema Classic in 2015 the last time his distinctive green, white and pink colours appeared.
Prior to that it was Cityscape’s runaway 2012 Dubai Turf success and his last runner in the Dubai World Cup was when Twice Over was ninth on the Tapeta surface in 2011.
As for California Chrome, the 2016 Dubai World Cup winner, a possible reason has emerged as to why he finished a lacklustre ninth having pushed Arrogate so close at Santa Anita in November. California Chrome had to break from the widest draw in Gate 12, and under Victor Espinoza he raced four to five wide during the early stages.
The giant chestnut finished almost 30 lengths behind Arrogate, but trainer Art Sherman revealed that his charge showed some discomfort in his right leg, which transpired to be fluid on the knee.
California Chrome is scheduled to fly to Kentucky where he will be X-rayed before taking up stallion duties at Taylor Made Farm.
Arrogate’s win on Saturday in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park is no guarantee of a Dubai World Cup run.