Arrogate looks for spring upset in Breeders' Cup Classic
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) California Chrome is undefeated in six starts this year. Arrogate is 4 of 5 and won the Travers with the fastest time in the race's 147-year history.
The 2014 Horse of the Year and the young challenger are set to face off in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
The 1 \\-mile Classic worth $6 million is the richest of 13 races to be run Saturday at Santa Anita, the ninth time the track has hosted the world championships. The race will be shown live in prime time on NBC.
California Chrome is the early even-money favorite with a chance to expand his career earnings of more than $13.4 million, which already make the 5-year-old horse the richest in North American history.
Arrogate is a late-developing 3-year-old gray colt who didn't run as a juvenile. His first start didn't come until April, when he finished third. He's won his four subsequent starts by over 23 lengths.
''His record speaks for itself,'' his jockey Mike Smith said. ''He's been training unbelievably. He'll need to repeat the race he ran in the Travers to beat California Chrome and the others, but he's got the talent.''
Arrogate drew the far outside post in the 10-horse field. He is the 5-2 second choice and will try to deliver a record third straight victory in the Classic for trainer Bob Baffert as the only 3-year-old in the race.
California Chrome will break from post No. 4 under Victor Espinoza, who rode American Pharoah to Triple Crown glory last year.
''He's going to be very difficult to outrun,'' Smith said. ''If there's anyone that has a chance to upset the apple cart, I think I'm on the right horse.''
California Chrome finished third in the Classic two years ago at the end of his 3-year-old season, in which he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and finished in a dead-heat for fourth in the Belmont.
''He only got beaten a neck, but he wasn't at his best mentally,'' trainer Art Sherman said of Chrome's previous Classic run. ''He shipped around a lot that year and went through the Triple Crown races. There's such a difference between how he's coming into this year's Classic and then.
''Now he's got his game face on when he gets to the paddock. He's all business; he knows what he has to do. He brings his `A' game. Chrome is bigger and stronger than ever. The way he runs now, he's become a push button horse; he'll do whatever Victor asks of him,'' Sherman said.
Arrogate exploded onto the national scene in the Travers in August, winning by 13 \\ lengths at Saratoga while setting a track record in the process.
''He'll have to be really good to beat Chrome,'' Baffert said. ''Now I know how the other guys felt last year when I had American Pharoah.''
Baffert won last year's Classic with Triple Crown champion American Pharoah and the 2014 edition with Bayern.
Besides Arrogate, Baffert will saddle Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Hoppertunity in the Classic.
Other Classic starters are: last year's runner-up Effinex; Met Mile and Whitney winner Frosted; Keen Ice (fourth last year); Gold Cup winner Melatonin; Shaman Ghost; War Story; and Win the Space.
In the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf, Lady Eli tries to continue her successful return from a life-threatening illness as the early 5-2 favorite for the 1 \\-mile race.
The 4-year-old filly's career was stalled for 13 months because of laminitis, a hoof ailment that led to the death of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Lady Eli, winner of the 2014 BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, beat the odds and returned in late August to finish second in the Ballston Spa at Saratoga.
She followed that up with a victory in the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont last month. Her owners plan to keep her racing next year.
''It already is an incredible story, but it would have an incredible new chapter if she is able to do this,'' trainer Chad Brown said. ''It would secure her place in history as one of the all-time greats.''
In Saturday's other Breeders' Cup races:
- Trained by Baffert, Noted and Quoted is the early 9-2 favorite in the 12-horse field for the $2 million Juvenile Fillies.
- Masochistic is the early 2-1 favorite in the $1.5 million Sprint.
- Ireland-bred Obviously is the early 6-1 favorite in the $1 million Turf Sprint that includes Undrafted, co-owned by former NFL star receiver Wes Welker.
- Not This Time is the early 7-2 favorite for the $2 million Juvenile, whose winner is often tabbed as the winter favorite for next year's Kentucky Derby. The 2-year-old colt is trained by Dale Romans and ridden by fellow Kentuckian Robby Albarado. The 11-horse field includes Syndergaard, named for New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard. Three-time Juvenile winner Baffert saddles Klimt.
- Britain-bred Flintshire is the early 5-2 favorite for the $4 million Turf, a race typically dominated by European-based runners. Flintshire is one of two entries trained by the New York-based Brown, along with Money Multiplier. Irishman Aidan O'Brien also has two entries: Found and Highland Reel. Both are co-second choices at 3-1.
- Haveyougoneaway is the early 3-1 favorite in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint. Brown has a pair of entries: Irish Jasper and Wavell Avenue.
- Ireland-bred Limato is the 7-2 early choice for the $2 million Mile. O'Brien saddles three horses: Alice Springs, Cougar Mountain and Hit It a Bomb.