Arrogate, recently named the World's Best Racehorse of 2016, served notice that he might be impossible to beat in 2017 with his dominating score in Saturday's $12 million Pegasus World Cup Inv. (G1) Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
The Pegasus was billed as a showdown between Arrogate and 2016 Horse of the Year California Chrome, but that duel never materialized when California Chrome was never really in contention and eventually faded to ninth in his career finale.
The spotlight was all Arrogate's. Before the race Bob Baffert was “on pins and needles” about Arrogate getting a bad break from his inside post. But Mike Smith hustled the gray son of Unbridled's Song out of the gate and had a good spot in third just behind early leader Noble Bird as the field rounded the first turn.
Arrogate was no more than two lengths off the lead down the backstretch, with California Chrome just to his outside. Approaching the final bend, Smith eased Arrogate off the rail to have a go at the leaders, while California Chrome began to fade.
Arrogate seized the lead with about five-sixteenths to run, and from that point on the only suspense was how big the margin of victory would be. The official chart said 4 3/4-lengths over Shaman Ghost, with a final time of 1:47.61 for the 1 1/8-miles.
Arrogate's win, which included a $7 million payday in the world's richest horse race, left his trainer overwhelmed by the feat his horse had just accomplished.
“When he started making that move at the 3/8-ths pole, I knew right there (he was going to win),” said Baffert while also thanking race creator Frank Stronach and Arrogate's owner Juddmonte Farms. “He's such a superior horse. I won my first Grade 1 here, so I'm a little emotional.”
Arrogate has now won six of seven starts, including last year's Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), when he also beat California Chrome, as well as a record-setting performance in the Travers S. (G1). His earnings of $11,084,600 make his the second-leading North American earner of all time, behind only the now-retired California Chrome.
As far as what is next for Arrogate, his connections are taking time to digest his latest victory before making any plans, though the $10 Dubai World Cup (G1) looms on the horizon.