January 22, 2022

World-best Arrogate towers over five others in San Diego

Arrogate captured his initial four stakes appearances, including the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) (c) Melanie Martines @SkimtheRail

Is there any horse in the country, or the world for that matter, that can compete with Arrogate? The answer for the past year has been “no,” and in Saturday’s $300,000 San Diego H. (G2) folks at Del Mar and around the nation will fully expect the status quo to prevail.

A 1 1/16-mile tune-up for next month’s 10-furlong Pacific Classic (G1), the San Diego marks Arrogate’s return to action following a superb victory in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) at Meydan, where the champion son of Unbridled’s Song was shuffled back to last following an early bump but made a sweeping move into contention and drew off from Gun Runner to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

The Dubai World Cup followed a dominating 4 3/4-length score in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup (G1), the richest race ever run, a half-length decision over California Chrome in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), and a record-setting win in the Travers (G1) by 13 1/2 lengths. In just eight starts, the Bob Baffert trainee has bankrolled a U.S. record of $17,084,600.

Arrogate carries 126 pounds in the San Diego, giving eight to 11 pounds to his rivals. Jockey Mike Smith will be in a pressure situation similar to the one he was in last week in the Delaware H. (G1) aboard Songbird, riding an overwhelming favorite in a race which on paper seems to difficult to lose.

They run races on the track, though, and a quintet will attempt to pull off what would be one of the biggest upsets in modern racing history. One of these, fellow Baffert pupil Cat Burglar, could be here to ensure a solid pace for Arrogate should the superhorse be taken back. Others with early lick are El Huerfano, an optional claiming class rival, and Donworth, who set the pace before fading to fourth in the June 24 Precisionist (G3) following a 14-month spell.

Cat Burglar edged Accelerate by nearly two lengths for second in the Precisionist, but the latter has a better overall record in graded company with a Grade 2 win in the Los Alamitos Derby and a third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last season. He’s also two-for-two at Del Mar, the only horse in the San Diego field besides Arrogate with a win over the track. Accelerate also out-finished Arrogate in their mutual debut at Los Alamitos in April 2016, thus is one of only two to ever beat the great horse to the finish.

The field is rounded out by Dalmore, gelded since his last run and unplaced in his last three stakes appearances.

The supporting feature on the first Saturday of the Del Mar meet is the $250,000 Eddie Read (G2), a nine-furlong grass stakes for older horses carded as Race 4. Multiple graded stakes winner Ashleyluvssugar, who narrowly missed to Midnight Storm in this race a year ago, figures to be a solid favorite over Mr. Roary, Hunt, Kenjisstorm, Wanstead Gardens, Up With the Birds, and Abbey Vale.