The stalwart Gun Runner proved his mettle, and vastly increased his stud fee, with a heart-stopping win in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic, paying $6.80 to win at Del Mar. Despite being lightly raced, Collected lived up to his billing and his previous win over Arrogate to place, and the Bob-Baffert-trained phenom West Coast held it together to show. It was a place-show race for the Hall of Famer Baffert. For his highly-touted part representing the Baffert stable, the great Arrogate nobly attempted to defend his 2016 title, but broke horribly from the inside post position and, though game, put in a disappointing performance to place fifth. He gave himself the task of having to remember that he was a champion midway through the race. Which he did, making up ground on the backstretch and mostly, at the top of the far turn. Tantalizingly unanswered is the question of whether he truly hates Del Mar, the track, or whether he is still, somehow, not himself.
Post-race, with the place and show horses in his barn, Arrogate’s trainer Bob Baffert turned more than a bit wistful at the notion that the horse with the most winnings in racing history will no longer be competing on the nation’s tracks. “He’s so much better than that and it’s so disappointing to see him go out like that,” he said. “He’s one of the greatest horses I’ve trained.”
An extreme compliment from this renowned trainer, given the Baffert stable’s own long record of wins.
War Story showed some class punching up into fourth behind West Coast, arguably above his weight, and good for him. Similarly, one could make an argument that Arrogate did his absolute best by taking fifth. To his credit, he looked tired but game, his front end just not reaching out after the confusion of the start. He beat his stablemate Mubtaahij, and was, in the field, squarely in the middle of the pack. But in this company, it was only good enough for what he got.
Perhaps the story of the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic lay not in the favorites but in the $2 pick-six, if the brilliant handicapper rang all the six bells. It paid a very respectable $388,432.60 on the two bucks. Those players will be celebrating with an extra bottle or three of Krug this evening.
||Win the Space|