Arrogate ready to match the greats with Classic performance

Fri 3 Nov 2017

By staff

Arrogate spearheads a record entry in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar on Saturday as leading American trainer Bob Baffert bids for a fourth successive success in the $US6million (£4.5million)

Arrogate upfront - Del Mar - Eclipse Sportswire Arrogate is as short as 7-4 for Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic (Eclipse Sportswire)

Arrogate is joined by stablemates West Coast, Collected, who beat Arrogate in Del Mar in August, and Mubtaahij.

Arrogate was the highest-rated horse in the world after winning the Dubai World Cup earlier this year fro, Gun Runner, but has lost his air of invincibility after being beaten on his latest two starts, both of which took place at the seaside course.

The dirt was riding slow and deep during the summer, having been relaid, but horsemen have suggested all week that it has speeded up since.

According to Timeform Adjusted Ratings Arrogate, who will be ridden by Mike Smith, is still 1lb superior to Gun Runner, but is no better than BetVictor's 5-2. Gun Runner is the 2-1 favourite.

"We have to see him (Arrogate) run the race that we're all accustomed to seeing him run," Baffert said.

"Right now, I just don't see him not running well. Whether it's good enough, we'll see.

Arrogate - Del MAr - EclipseSportswire Arrogate drilled 5f in a minute at Santa Anita as his last work (Eclipse Sportwire)

"After Dubai he came in with that bad race. After that he had a decent race, but he did get beaten by a pretty nice horse in Collected, who is also in the Classic and is very fond of the surface here.

"You've also got Gun Runner in there and West Coast, who is a three-year-old and we don't know how good he is.

"It's a tough Classic and then you don't know how the Coolmore horses will do on the dirt. They're all competitive and tough."

The Steve Asmussen-trained Gun Runner was no match for Arrogate at Meydan, but has since landed three Grade Ones.

Arrogate - Duabi World Cup - DRCheadon Arrogate capped a remarkable few months when scooping the Dubai World Cup in sensational style in March (Meydan)

"He's definitely impressed and we're very happy with the position we're in going into the Classic," said Asmussen.

"He was a very talented two-year-old and had a solid career three-year-old career, but he's reached a new level as a four-year-old. He's just now reaching his potential."

Churchill bids to provide Aidan O'Brien with a fairytale ending to an historic year by securing the Ballydoyle handler with an elusive first success in the ten-furlong contest.

O'Brien broke the worldwide record for number of Group One winners trained in a calendar year when Saxon Warrior clinched the trainer's 26th top-level triumph of 2017 in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.

And it will be right up there with the biggest achievements of his stellar career if he can finally break his duck in the Classic, having come very close in the past with Giant's Causeway (2000) and Henrythenavigator (2008).

O'Brien said: "It's a massive race and a race we'd always love to win, but it's a tough race and obviously we haven't won it.

Churchill - Del Mar - Penelope Miller:ABR Churchill sweated up considerably on his first sighter of Del Mar this week (Penelope Miller/ABR)

"We take the horses as they come along. With Churchill, I've always thought that he could end up in the Classic."

Churchill looked a potential superstar after completing the English-Irish 2000 Guineas double in the spring, but has been beaten on each of his four starts since.

However, he was far from disgraced when third in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot and O'Brien feels he has not yet realised his full potential.

He said: "Even though things haven't quite worked out for him in his last three races, everything has gone smoothly for him since Ascot.

"He has tactical early speed and is tough and what some people didn't spot at Ascot was that he got stopped twice in the last two furlongs and lost his momentum."

The trainer said: "I don't think we've seen the very best of this horse.

"The dirt is obviously the big question for him this week, but he's a big powerful horse and is built to handle it.

"He is tactically quick early and he relaxes and then he comes home very well. He gets a mile really well and probably stays a mile and a quarter

"He's a big powerful horse, like those American horses, and we're looking forward to it."

O'Brien also saddles the American-bred War Decree, who was an authoritative winner of a Group Three at Dundalk on his latest appearance.

He added: "Ryan (Moore) rode him in the French Derby and was full of him. He said his run was much better than it looked.

"Donnacha (O'Brien) was over the moon with his work and then went and won in Dundalk on him and was very happy.

"He said he loved the surface and a mile and a quarter, so it'll be interesting."

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