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California Chrome, Arrogate, Songbird up for Eclipse Awards

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — California Chrome and Arrogate will meet once more on the track. Before that, an off-track race will be settled.

California Chrome and Arrogate were among the finalists announced Thursday for Horse of the Year, the top prize that will be awarded at the Eclipse Awards.

Those trophies will be presented on Jan. 21 – one week before California Chrome races for the final time, facing Arrogate again in the inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.

California Chrome won seven of his eight starts last year. The lone loss was to Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“He’s obviously going to be missed,” Alan Sherman, the son of California Chrome trainer Art Sherman, said this week. “You can’t replace a horse like him. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse. We’re proud of everything he’s done, but all good things come to an end, I guess. We’re just going to enjoy it and have fun. I think he’s going to put on a really good show at Gulfstream.”

That show is scheduled to start Friday, when California Chrome is expected to ship in from California. His first workout at Gulfstream is scheduled for this weekend.

Songbird is the other finalist for Horse of the Year.

California Chrome is trying to become the eighth to win multiple Horse of the Year trophies since the Eclipse Awards were instituted in 1971. He also won as a 3-year-old in 2014, and is up for the Eclipse in the older dirt male division this year.

Arrogate never even ran against stakes company before he smashed the field – and a track record – on his way to winning the Travers at Saratoga in August. He followed that up with the half-length win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and that also could be enough to get him 3-year-old male honors even after not running in any of the Triple Crown races.

Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Preakness winner Exaggerator are the other finalists in the 3-year-old male race.

Songbird likely won’t leave the Eclipse Awards empty-handed – she’s also up for 3-year-old filly honors and would seem to be the overwhelming favorite there.

Javier Castellano is aiming for his fourth straight Eclipse as best jockey, with Jose Ortiz and Mike Smith the other finalists. Smith is a two-time winner, the last of those trophies coming in 1994.

Bob Baffert is one of three finalists for the trainer Eclipse, last year’s winner joined there by Chad Brown and Mark Casse. If Baffert wins, he would be the third five-time winner of the Eclipse in that division, joining only Bobby Frankel and seven-time winner Todd Pletcher.

The list of finalists, as announced Thursday at Gulfstream Park:

Female sprinter: Finest City, Haveyougoneaway, Paulassilverlining

Female turf horse: Lady Eli, Miss Temple City, Tepin

Horse of the year: Arrogate, California Chrome, Songbird

Male sprinter: A.P. Indian, Drefong, Lord Nelson

Male turf horse: Flintshire, Highland Reel, Tourist

Older dirt female: Beholder, Cavorting, Stellar Wind

Older dirt male: California Chrome, Frosted, Lord Nelson

Outstanding jockey: Javier Castellano, Jose Ortiz, Mike Smith

Outstanding apprentice jockey: Kevin Gomez, Lane Luzzi, Luis Ocasio

Outstanding breeder: Clearsky Farms, Darley, WinStar Farm LLC

Outstanding owner: Juddmonte Farms Ltd., Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Spendthrift Farm LLC

Outstanding trainer: Bob Baffert, Chad Brown, Mark Casse

Steeplechase horse: Rawnaq, Scorpiancer, Top Striker

3-year-old filly: Cathryn Sophia, Queen’s Trust, Songbird

3-year-old male: Arrogate, Exaggerator, Nyquist

2-year-old filly: Champagne Room, Lady Aurelia, New Money Honey

2-year-old male: Classic Empire, Not This Time, Practical Joke

World’s No. 1 horse Arrogate returns to racing at Del Mar

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Arrogate is returning to racing after a nearly four-month layoff with a bulls-eye on his back.

The 4-year-old colt ranked the world’s No. 1 horse brings a seven-race winning streak into the San Diego Handicap on Saturday at Del Mar. He won the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic last year, the $12 million Pegasus World Cup in January and the $10 million Dubai World Cup in his last start on March 25.

His career earnings of $17,084,600 are a North American record.

So what’s a big-shot like him doing in a $300,000 stakes?

It’s a tuneup for more prestigious races later on and the first of three potential starts the colt will make at the seaside track north of San Diego. Arrogate’s target this summer is the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 19. This fall, he will defend his title in the BC Classic, which he won last year at Santa Anita.

The field for the Grade 2 San Diego was reduced to five on Friday when trainer Keith Desormeaux decided to run Dalmore in Sunday’s $75,000 Wickerr Stakes instead of taking on Arrogate.

That leaves Accelerate, Cat Burglar, El Huerfano and Donworth to challenge Arrogate, who figures to be the odds-on favorite in the 1 1/16-mile race. Bob Baffert trains both Arrogate and Cat Burglar.

Arrogate will carry high weight of 126 pounds, including Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. The colt is spotting Cat Burglar eight pounds, Accelerate nine pounds, Donworth 10 pounds and El Huerfano 11 pounds. In a handicap race, weights are assigned by the racing secretary.

Arrogate hasn’t carried that much weight since winning a minor race at Del Mar last summer. After that, he grabbed the sport’s attention with a record 13 +-length victory in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. It’s been one big-money victory after another ever since.

The colt has distanced himself from the competition in ways not seen in racing recently.

He knocked off fan favorite and Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome in the BC Classic and beat Chrome again in the Pegasus World Cup. Traveling thousands of miles to Dubai didn’t faze Arrogate, either. Despite a poor start out of the gate, he went on to victory in the desert.

Baffert has masterfully managed Arrogate’s career for owner Juddmonte Farm, with the Hall of Fame trainer carefully picking his spots and the colt’s performance backing him up every time. His only loss came in his career debut when he finished third.

Still, Baffert knows better than most what it’s like leading a world-beater to the track only to watch him lose.

That’s what happened two years ago, 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.

And Arrogate’s rivals are spoiling for a similar upset at Del Mar.

“One great thing about this sport is that they’re not machines,” said Doug O’Neill, who trains Donworth. “As much as Arrogate looks unbeatable, they all are beatable. If he’s not feeling it on Saturday and we are, we’ll shock the world.”

Irap wins Indiana Derby; AJ Foyt’s horse finishes 2nd

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SHELBYVILLE, Ind. — Irap won the $500,000 Indiana Derby by five lengths over Colonelsdarkemper, owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt.

Ridden by Mario Gutierrez, Irap ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.21 on Saturday night at Indiana Grand. He paid $4.80, $3.20 and $2.60 in the Grade 3 race for 3-year-olds. Irap is trained by Southern California-based Doug O’Neill.

Colonelsdarktemper returned $9.60 and $5.80, while Untrapped was another length back in third and paid $2.80 to show.

Foyt is in Toronto for this weekend’s IndyCar race, so he sent grandson A.J. Foyt IV to the track outside Indianapolis.

“He’s always shown a lot of heart and he showed it tonight,” the younger Foyt said about the colt. “He ran a great race.”

The younger Foyt works in the Indianapolis Colts’ front office. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, where his father Tony trained horses.

“Horse racing holds a special place in my heart, and I’m glad my grandfather still has it going on,” A.J. IV said.