California Chrome heavy favorite in Breeders’ Cup Classic

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The greater the buzz is about whether California Chrome can complete a historic trifecta by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the better the odds get on the challengers to the richest horse in North American history.

California Chrome, who will start from the No. 4 post at Santa Anita racetrack under jockey Victor Espinoza, is listed as the -140 favorite for the climatic race of the season at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Chrome, the four-legged equivalent of Michael Phelps – the champion who’s kept on while most of his contemporaries have retired – is an unblemished 6-0 this season and will be trying to complete the first sweep of the world’s three biggest dirt races.

Chrome has already won the Kentucky Derby and the Dubai World Classic. The five-year-old’s odds seem to be getting less profitable by the hour; Chrome opened at even-money and was listed at -120 on Wednesday before the odds shifted again. It’s hard to imagine Chrome losing in his own backyard.

Arrogate, a Bob Baffert-trained three-year-old, draws in as the second favorite at +275 on the Breeders’ Cup Classic odds. The Classic is a 1 1/4-mile race and Arrogate set a track record at that distance while winning the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, New York, in August. However, this is only his sixth career race, so if he prevails he would be the most inexperienced winner in the Classic’s 33-year history. Arrogate is starting from the outside at the No. 10 position.

Frosted, who is listed at +750, has never finished higher than third in four lifetime starts at one mile and a quarter. His two graded stakes wins this year have each come at shorter distances.

Effinex, bred and named by Russell Cohen, offers the most realistic longshot value at +4000. Effinex, with Flavien Prat aboard on Saturday, was the runner-up in the 2015 Classic and will start on the inside from the No. 1 post. That creates the possibility of Effinex, as is his wont, biding his time and making a move for the lead on the home stretch.

Melatonin, listed at +1600 and slotted into the No. 6 post, has won four times at Santa Anita but has not raced since June. No Classic winner has ever had a four-month layoff, but the respite could help the veteran.

Two other darkhorses that rate consideration to place or show are Hoppertunity (+2200, No. 9 post) and Keen Ice (+2500, No. 3 post). Each could benefit from the blistering pace Arrogate and California Chrome could set in the first two quarter miles.

The field of 10 is filled out by Shaman Ghost (+2500, No. 8 post), Win The Space (+6600, No. 5 post) and War Story (+10000, No. 7 post).

Baffert hoping Arrogate gives him third Dubai World Cup win

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Having taken over the mantle as the world’s best racehorse from California Chrome, Arrogate will attempt on Saturday to wear another crown that last fitted his illustrious American compatriot, the Dubai World Cup.

All eyes are on the 4-year-old Arrogate, who lost on debut 11 months ago but hasn’t lost since.

He’s won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup this year to stretch his unbeaten streak to six. In both races, Arrogate defeated Chrome, who won the Dubai World Cup last year at Meydan Racecourse by five lengths despite jockey Victor Espinoza hanging on to a loose saddle for most of it.

Under jockey Mike Smith, Arrogate has forged a winning combination in his last three Group 1 races: Travers Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup.

In Dubai, they have drawn stall nine among 14 contenders, a position which fails to douse the confidence of his trainer Bob Baffert.

“Nine is fine,” said Baffert, who also trained 2015 U.S. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

“He’s settled in pretty well. As long as he shows up, that’s the key. If he runs his race, we know what he can do.”

Smith was all praise for his mount, ranked the No. 1 racehorse in the world.

“I have been blessed with some really, really good horses, but I am not sure I have ever sit on one like this,” Smith said.

“Everything about him, his disposition, his mechanics, the way he gets over the ground … at times you feel as if you are running downhill instead of a level ground. What amazes me most is when the race is over, it looks as if he did not put much effort into it. His recovery time is so quick.”

Arrogate’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup wins came over 2,000 meters on dirt, the same distance and conditions as the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Baffert hopes Arrogate can give him a third Dubai World Cup victory after Silver Charm (1998) and Captain Steve (2001).

He suffered a heart attack during his last visit to Dubai in 2012, and watched the World Cup five nights later with stents in two of his blocked arteries. He also watched from even farther afield last year as his other horse, Hoppertunity, finished third behind Chrome and Mike de Kock’s Mubtaahij.

He’s giving Hoppertunity another chance.

“Both my horses are happy and healthy,” Baffert said. “He (Hoppertunity) should be collecting a check again. That is what he does, picks up the pieces in these big races. He reminds me of Pac-Man, he just keeps going. A Dubai World Cup 1-2, that would be something.”

Mubtaahij is also back, although he will start under Christophe Soumillon from the widest of stalls.

“Like everyone, we wanted low,” the Belgian jockey said. “I will have to … hope for some luck.”

The Dubai World Cup features a nine-race card offering $30 million across six Group 1 and three Group 2 races on turf and dirt.

Six three-year-olds nominated late to Triple Crown series

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Thunder Snow, winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas, is among six 3-year-olds made eligible to compete in the Triple Crown series during the late nomination period.

The late nominees, which required a payment of $6,000 each, raise the total nominations to 425 for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. The late nomination period closed Monday. The early nomination window closed in January and required a payment of $600.

Ireland-bred Thunder Snow, owned by Godolphin Racing, is set to run Saturday in the $2 million UAE Derby in Dubai. The colt has three wins in seven career starts for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

The other late nominees are Hollywood Handsome, trained by Dallas Stewart; More Than Words, trained by Charlie LoPresti; Parlor, trained by Eddie Kenneally; Rapid Dial, trained by Ingrid Mason; and Stretch’s Stone, trained by Bruce Levine.

Thoroughbreds that weren’t nominated to the Triple Crown have one final chance by paying a supplemental fee. The fee for the Derby is $200,000; $150,000 for the Preakness; and $75,000 for the Belmont.