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California Chrome romps to 12-length win at Los Alamitos

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LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. — California Chrome won the $180,000 Winter Challenge by 12 lengths in track-record time Saturday at Los Alamitos in his final start in California.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, California Chrome ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.03, breaking the old mark of 1:40.82 set by Uncle Lino on April 30 in the California Chrome Stakes.

California Chrome paid $2.10 as the 1-20 favorite in a race that featured only win wagering.

The victory, worth $50,000, increased California Chrome’s career earnings to $14,502,652, with 16 wins in 26 starts.

Point Piper was second at 21-1 odds, while 98-1 shot Papacoolpapacool was another 3 1/4 lengths back in third.

With 5,023 cheering him on, California Chrome made his first and last start at Los Alamitos where he has trained since January 2014 under Art Sherman.

The race served as a prep for California Chrome’s rematch with Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 28 at Florida’s Gulfstream Park.

Outrun early after breaking from the outside in the field of 10, California Chrome was kept in the clear and extremely wide by Espinoza to avoid any possible traffic problems.

Fifth after the opening half-mile, the 2014 Horse of the Year and world’s richest active thoroughbred moved up to join the leaders without urging and swept to the lead with about 2 1/2 furlongs to run.

“I was pretty nervous before the race,” Sherman said. “You know your horse is better than the others running in the race, but it is a horse race and anything can happen. You could see he was much the best. It was just perfect.

“Now I can relax and get ready for the Pegasus. I want Arrogate bad. I have something in my heart that says Chrome can beat him,” the trainer said.

California Chrome is set to begin his stud career in Kentucky after he competes in the Pegasus World Cup.

In the $100,000 Soviet Problem Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, 1-2 favorite Sircat Sally won by 12 lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Sircat Sally ran a mile in 1:35.42 and paid $3, $2.60 and $2.20.

Cash Prize returned $9.40 and $6.20 at 17-1 odds, while Bella Luma was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $3.60 to show.

Arrogate remains on course for Pacific Classic at Del Mar

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DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Bob Baffert wasn’t beating himself up a day after Arrogate’s upset loss in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar that snapped the seven-race winning streak of the world’s top-ranked horse.

The Hall of Fame trainer said Sunday that other than getting a lot of dirt in his eyes and mouth the 4-year-old colt emerged in good physical condition after finishing fourth, beaten by 15 \ lengths as the 1-20 favorite.

Baffert says that as long as Arrogate continues working out well and nothing comes up, the colt will run in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 19 at Del Mar. Baffert says Arrogate “will be ready next time.”

Arrogate was never better than fourth among the five-horse field during the race. Accelerate led all the way and won by 8 + lengths.

Arrogate soundly beaten by Accelerate in stunner at Del Mar

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DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Mike Smith tried everything he could with Arrogate. He moved the colt to the outside, but he didn’t pick up the pace. Smith dropped him down near the rail before wheeling him outside once more.

Nothing worked.

“He just wasn’t trying,” the Hall of Fame jockey said.

Accelerate stunned overwhelming favorite Arrogate to win the $300,000 San Diego Handicap by 8 1/2 lengths Saturday at Del Mar, snapping the seven-race winning streak of the world’s top-ranked horse.

Arrogate finished fourth, beaten by 15 1/4 lengths in the 4-year-old colt’s first race since March 25 in Dubai.

“I’m at a loss for words,” Smith said. “He was just flat, so flat.”

His trainer, Bob Baffert, was blunter, saying Arrogate “laid an egg.”

It wasn’t the first time Accelerate got the best of Arrogate. Last year at Los Alamitos, Accelerate beat Arrogate by a neck in the colt’s career debut in a race won by another horse. It was Arrogate’s lone loss until Saturday.

“I thought he’d run better than that,” Baffert said, “but he just didn’t want to go.”

Accelerate lived up to his name, leading all the way while covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.15.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Accelerate paid $17.60, $32.60 and $22 as the 7-1 second choice in the field of five.

“He got in a nice rhythm; he was going easy,” said Espinoza, aboard for the first time. “I was surprised by how far I won. I wasn’t surprised that I did; I was here to win.”

Donworth, a 24-1 shot, returned $119.80 and $67.40. His payoffs were a track record, bettering the old mark of $101.60 and $40.20 set by Cipria on Sept. 1, 1955.

Baffert-trained Cat Burglar paid $38.20 to show.

All but $214,466 of the $2,671,938 total win, place and show pool wagering was bet on Arrogate, the 1-20 favorite.

Arrogate’s winning streak included the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic last year, the $12 million Pegasus World Cup and the $10 million Dubai World Cup. He earned $18,000, boosting his career total to $17,102,600, a North American record.

It wasn’t the first time Baffert had led a world-beater to the track only to watch him lose.

That’s what happened in 2015, when American Pharoah was stunned by Keen Ice in the Travers barely two months after becoming horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

“That’s why my hair is white,” Baffert quipped after the race.

Under the race’s handicap conditions, Arrogate carried high weight of 126 pounds, spotting Accelerate nine pounds. But Baffert said the weight difference had nothing to do with the result.

Heading to the rail beforehand, Accelerate’s trainer, John Sadler, said he thought the race would be closer than people thought.

“You want to win, you don’t want to concede anything, but I’m surprised we won because Arrogate is the best horse in the world,” Sadler said. “A couple of things went right for us and one of them was that Arrogate didn’t fire his best. That’s what has to happen for these big upsets.”

With Accelerate setting the pace, Smith had Arrogate last through the opening half-mile before they began making their move into the far turn. But Arrogate’s rally was brief while Accelerate cruised to the finish line in front of a shocked crowd at the seaside oval north of San Diego.

Arrogate will have a chance to turn the tables in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 19, when the two colts are expected to meet again.

“We’ve got to go back and start over again,” Smith said. “Get it back right.”