Breeders' Cup Recap: Arrogate Prevails
How will California Chrome be remembered? Will it be for winning the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and being named Horse of the Year? Or will it be for the two big races he lost: the 2014 Belmont as a 3/5 chalk, and Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic at even money? Fans at Santa Anita Park were actually in tears when California Chrome came in a half-length behind the second favourite Arrogate, who paid out at $5.40 to win.
Perhaps it was the way California Chrome lost. The beloved chestnut stallion was widely expected to win the 2016 Classic after a very strong season as a five-year-old: six straight wins and zero losses, including the Grade I Dubai World Cup back in March. California Chrome took the lead at the $6 million Classic and appeared well on his way to victory, but Arrogate chased him down through the stretch and surged ahead under the active whip of jockey Mike Smith.
No Lead Is Safe
At least some of the fans at Santa Anita were able to appreciate their new champion once California Chrome walked off the track and into the sunset – he's expected to retire to Taylor Made Farm next year, where he'll command a $40,000 stud fee. Arrogate is a deserving winner, a three-year-old gray stallion owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bob Baffert. The Classic was only Arrogate's second graded stakes, but he won his debut at the Grade 1 Travers Stakes in record time, after breaking his maiden and taking down a pair of allowance races.
Not everyone was ready to hand it to Arrogate, though. Many fans were upset with jockey Victor Espinoza for his work aboard California Chrome. Espinoza said afterward that he could have pushed a little sooner, but with his horse running so well, it didn't seem necessary – until it was too late. California Chrome finished with a blazing Beyer Speed Figure of 119. Arrogate's was 120.
In the end, perhaps these two horses will be remembered in the same breath, like Swaps and Nashua. They were definitely the class of the Classic field; Keen Ice finished another 10 3/4 lengths behind in third, followed by Hoppertunity, Melatonin, Frosted, Effinex, War Story and Win the Space (DNF). Shaman Ghost was a scratch. Fittingly enough, there will be one more race between Arrogate and California Chrome, and that's for 2016 Horse of the Year. Get your handkerchiefs ready, just in case.
Breeders' Cup Classic 2016: Final Results:
|2||California Chrome||A. Sherman|
|3||Keen Ice||T. Pletcher|
|8||War Story||M. Serey Jr.|
|9||Win the Space||G. Papaprodromou|