Bob Baffert became the first trainer in Breeders’ Cup history to win three consecutive runnings of the Classic (G1) on Saturday when the brilliant 3-year-old colt Arrogate defeated former Horse of the Year California Chrome in the $6 million race at Santa Anita Park.
Baffert is also the only trainer to win the Classic three times. He took the 2014 running with Bayern and last year’s renewal with Horse of the Year American Pharoah. Baffert also surpassed fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas as the all-time Breeders’ Cup leading trainer by money won.
Arrogate’s meteoric rise to super stardom started less than six months ago, when the son of Unbridled’s Song broke his maiden. After a pair of allowance wins, Baffert shipped the gray to Saratoga, where he broke the track record with a mind-boggling performance in the Travers S. (G1), winning by 13 ½-lengths in 1:59.36.
Rested since then, Arrogate was the second choice behind California Chrome in Saturday’s 1 ¼-mile test. California Chrome took the lead soon after the start, with Arrogate holding the third spot through the first six furlongs, which went in 1:10.96.
Mike Smith moved Arrogate up to challenge the favorite on the turn, but California Chrome had another gear, pulling away by two lengths with the stretch looming. Looking like he might get beat with a furlong to run, Smith spurred on Arrogate once again, and the colt responded with a supreme effort to win by a half-length in 2:00.11.
"I was surprised I beat him," Baffert said. "I didn't think I could beat him going in. This horse is just learning how to run. California Chrome is a champion. To run down California Chrome, that's what the Breeders' Cup is all about, watching races like that."
Arrogate, owned by Juddmonte Farm, has won six of seven starts and has earned $4,684,600.