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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.

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming to skip Belmont Stakes

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NEW YORK — Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming will skip the Belmont Stakes next month after finishing eighth in the Preakness.

Trainer Todd Pletcher says the 3-year-old colt will be pointed toward either the $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 29 or the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on July 30, according to the Daily Racing Form.

Trainer Chad Brown says he will wait until after the Memorial Day weekend to announce where Preakness winner Cloud Computing will run next. However, it appears unlikely he will run in the Belmont.

The Belmont field is limited to 16 starters. Besides Classic Empire, who came in second at the Preakness Stakes, other horses expected to run are Conquest Mo Money, Japan-based Epicharis, Gormley, Irap, J Boys Echo, Lookin At Lee, Meantime, Multiple, Patch, Senior Investment, Tapwrit, True Timber and Twisted Tom. Other possibilities are Irish War Cry and Hollywood Handsome.

With no Triple Crown in play, Belmont lacks a singular buzz

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BALTIMORE — Cloud Computing stole the Preakness, and any hope of a Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.

The 13-1 shot did it on six weeks’ rest, having skipped the 20-horse roughhouse that is the Kentucky Derby even though he had enough points to get in that race. With another three weeks until the Belmont in New York, Cloud Computing could return to run on his home track.

“We haven’t ruled it out,” trainer Chad Brown said Sunday. “We’re just going to evaluate the horse this week and probably by next weekend we may have a decision.”

Cloud Computing didn’t race as a 2-year-old because of injury, so he is among the freshest horses out there.

Brown prefers to give his horses a month or more between starts. Trainer Todd Pletcher also favors long layoffs, although he made an exception to run Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming back in two weeks. The colt responded with an eighth-place finish – the worst of his career – on Saturday.

“He looks good, bright, alert, sound, healthy, happy,” Pletcher said. “We’ll head to Belmont and regroup.”

If the Derby and Preakness winners skip the Belmont on June 10, the likely favorite would be Classic Empire, who was runner-up Saturday after finishing fourth in the Derby.

It would be the first time since 2010 that neither the Derby nor Preakness winner run in the Belmont. That year, Derby winner Super Saver, trained by Pletcher, and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky sat out the third leg.

Trainer Mark Casse said Classic Empire is being pointed toward the Belmont, barring any unforeseen developments.

“He was a better horse yesterday than he was two weeks ago for the Kentucky Derby,” he said.

Among other horses likely for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont – the longest of the Triple Crown races – are: Senior Investment (third in Preakness), Lookin At Lee (fourth in Preakness) and Japanese invader Epicharis.

Lookin At Lee finished second in the Derby, when Classic Empire was fourth.

Classic Empire and Lookin At Lee would face off for the sixth time in the Belmont, and they could be the only horses to run in all three Triple Crown races. Classic Empire has three victories against Lookin At Lee, including this year’s Arkansas Derby.

“You’re looking at horses that traveled at 2, ran at as high a level as we have, so you’re not surprised,” said Steve Asmussen, who trains Lookin At Lee and won last year’s Belmont with Creator.

“They’ve been able to maintain themselves physically. That puts them in a different position than horses who have not consistently run on that stage.”

Possible Belmont starters are Multiplier (sixth in Preakness) and Conquest Mo Money (seventh in Preakness). Gunnevera (fifth in Preakness) and Hence (ninth in Preakness) won’t run in the Belmont.

Epicharis, one of the top 3-year-olds in Japan, will make his North American debut in the $1.5 million Belmont. That would make him eligible for a new $1 million bonus offered by the New York Racing Association to any Japan-based winner of the race. The winner’s share of the purse is $800,000.

Epicharis would be the second Japanese horse to run in the Belmont. Last year, Lani finished third after running in all three legs of the Triple Crown.