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Arrogate upsets California Chrome to win BC Classic

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) California Chrome was cruising along on the lead, looking every inch the lauded veteran ready to polish his resume with another big victory. Trailing behind was Arrogate, the youngest horse in the field, brilliant but inexperienced.

In a thrilling finish to Breeders’ Cup weekend, racing’s newest star emerged.

Arrogate chased California Chrome through the stretch, leaving the rest of the field in the dust. The highly anticipated showdown was on.

With Mike Smith first whipping Arrogate left-handed and then right, the 3-year-old colt caught California Chrome in the final 100 yards to win the $6 million Classic by a half-length Saturday at Santa Anita.

“When I did that, he gave me another jump,” Smith said. “That is what got us on by.”

The victory elevated Arrogate to heir apparent to California Chrome, who at age 5 likely has one race left in his storybook career.

For Arrogate, the future is limitless. His potential is untapped, having not competed as a 2-year-old and making just his sixth start in North America’s richest race.

It was California Chrome’s first loss in seven starts this year; Arrogate won his fifth straight.

“I was surprised I beat him,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “I didn’t think I could beat him going in.”

Smith earned his third Cup victory of the weekend and leading 25th of his career. Baffert won his record third consecutive Classic in front of an announced crowd of 72,811, third-highest in the event’s 33-year history.

Owned by Juddmonte Farms, Arrogate ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.11 and paid $5.40, $2.80 and $2.60 as the 8-5 second choice.

California Chrome set an unchallenged pace, with Melatonin second and Arrogate loping along on the outside in third down the backside.

“I was cruising on the lead. He was doing it so easy, so comfortable,” Espinoza said. “Maybe I should have opened it up a little bit early.”

Around the final turn, Arrogate cut inside of Melatonin and shifted to the outside, taking dead aim on California Chrome, the 2014 Horse of the Year who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness that year.

“Once I switched over and dropped into the far turn, he really picked it up at that point,” Smith said. “Then he was relentless, this horse. He never stops. He’s got some stamina.”

California Chrome still had an advantage in the upper stretch until Arrogate closed steadily to pull off the upset.

“You saw two champions run,” said Art Sherman, California Chrome’s 79-year-old trainer. “What can I say? We got outrun on the fair. No excuses. He ran his eyeballs out.”

California Chrome returned $2.60 and $2.40. Keen Ice was another 10 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $5.80 to show.

Late-developing Arrogate first gained notice in August at Saratoga, winning the Travers by 13 1/2 lengths with the fastest time in the track’s 147-year history.

Then he proved in the Classic he’s not a one-race wonder.

“This horse is just learning how to run. California Chrome is a champion,” Baffert said. “To run down California Chrome, that’s what the Breeders’ Cup is all about, watching races like that.”

Hoppertunity, also trained by Baffert, was fourth. Melatonin finished fifth, followed by Frosted, Effinex, War Story and Win the Space, who didn’t finish.

Shaman Ghost was scratched.

In other races:

– Classic Empire won the $2 million Juvenile by a neck, making him the winter favorite for next year’s Kentucky Derby.

Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Classic Empire ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.60 and paid $11 to win as the 9-2 second choice.

Trained by Kentucky-based Mark Casse, Classic Empire has won four of five career starts, losing only when he tossed his rider in the Hopeful at Saratoga in September.

Not This Time, the 5-2 favorite, was second and Practical Joke third. Lookin At Lee finished fourth in the 11-horse field.

– Baffert won his fifth career Sprint race with Drefong, who scored by 1 1/4 lengths.

– Smith scored an upset victory in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint with 8-1 shot Finest City.

– Highland Reel held off favored Flintshire by 1 3/4 lengths to win the $4 million Turf for Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien.

– Tourist held off a late charge from defending champion Tepin to win the $2 million Mile by a half-length.

– Obviously became the first favorite to win on the weekend, taking the lead shortly out of the starting gate and holding off Om by a nose in the $1 million Turf Sprint.

– Champagne Room got the day started with a 30-1 upset in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies.

– Queen’s Trust caught 8-5 favorite Lady Eli at the finish line to win the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf by a nose, the first victory for Europe on the weekend.

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.