Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate ($5.40) ran down odds-on favorite California Chrome in deep stretch to win the 33rd running of the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) for 3-year-olds and up by a half-length Saturday afternoon before a Santa Anita Breeders’ Cup record crowd of 72,811.
The previous Santa Anita record was set in 1986, the first time the track hosted the event, of 69,155. Santa Anita has hosted the Breeders’ Cup nine times.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Canterbury Park Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, Arrogate covered the mile and a quarter on a fast main track in 2:00.11. It was the fifth consecutive victory for Arrogate, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Unbridled’s Song.
It was the fifth Breeders’ Cup victory for Juddmonte and first in the Classic.
The victory gave Baffert a third consecutive triumph in the Classic, an unprecedented achievement at the World Championships. Now a winner of 14 Breeders’ Cup races, Baffert won the 2014 Classic with Bayern and last year’s running with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
Smith, who won three races this weekend to boost his World Championships total to a record 25, won the Classic for the fourth time. Smith’s other Classic wins came on Skip Away in 1997, Zenyatta in 2009 and Drosselmeyer in 2011.
California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza, took the lead out of the gate and raced on an unchallenged lead through fractions of 23 1/5, 47 and 1:10 4/5. Smith had Arrogate in the clear outside of horses on the run down the backside and began moving at the leaders on the far turn.
On the turn, Arrogate cut to the inside of Melatonin, who had been tracking California Chrome, and then shifted to the outside to take dead aim at California Chrome.
California Chrome still maintained a daylight advantage in the upper stretch, but Arrogate closed steadily to pull away late.
BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC QUOTES
Winning and fourth-place trainer Bob Baffert (Arrogate/Hoppertunity) – “When Chrome was out there cruising, I thought no way he’s going to catch him, he’s going to run second, but at least he showed up. Then all of a sudden, Mike’s riding and he’s catching up little by little with that big stride kicking in. I felt like when Trevor (Denman) says ‘this is un-believe-able.’ I never thought he would be able to catch Chrome.”
Winning jockey Mike Smith (Arrogate) – “That was incredible. I’m at a loss for words. He’s such a young horse. He’s so talented. He’s got amazing stamina. He doesn’t quit. He could have gone around again. He’s incredible.”
Second-place jockey Victor Espinoza (California Chrome) – “It was great. He’s an awesome horse. I was all by myself in the front and thought I could save something for the very end. Thinking back, I should have just let him run early but he ran great.”
Second-place trainer Art Sherman (California Chrome) – “He ran his race, but just got beat in those last couple of jumps. That winner (Arrogate) is the real McCoy. I knew he was the one we had to beat, but I didn’t know how good he was. We had no excuses. He broke so darn good that I figured we’d be in front early. The fractions were fine. When we were in front turning for home, I thought he’d win, because he usually hangs on. He’s been so good all year long, but it just shows that you can’t win every race.”
Third-place jockey Javier Castellano (Keen Ice) – “I’m very satisfied with the way he ran today. It was a good third place to the best horses in the country. It was a great effort today.”
Third-place trainer Todd Pletcher (Keen Ice) – “The pace didn’t really develop quite the way we thought it would. We were hoping they’d mix it up more than they did. I thought he put in a good, long sustained run. He showed some guts and fought hard for third and showed some guts.”
Third-place owner Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing (Keen Ice) – “Very well pleased. I can’t say enough for the job Todd’s done bringing him back. We’ll see what’s next.”
Fourth-place jockey John Velazquez (Hoppertunity) – “He just likes to stay so far back. I thought we were going to get second for a minute, but was left with too much to do. He finished well.”
Sixth-place jockey Joel Rosario (Frosted) – “I had a good trip. He broke sharp. I was in a good spot all the way, but they ran away from me.”
Sixth-place trainer Kiaran McLaughlin (Frosted) – “It just didn’t go well at all. He’s been doing so well. It’s just very disappointing. Bob Baffert and Mike Smith did a great job and their horse ran a great race. We just didn’t show up. No excuses.”
Seventh-place jockey Flavien Prat (Effinex) – “He hates to be on the inside. From the beginning he tried to get out. I wish I could have known him before the race and like I said he didn’t like the inside at all.”
ATTENDANCE AND HANDLE INCREASE AT 2016 BREEDERS’ CUP
A crowd of 72,811, the highest single-day attendance for a Breeders’ Cup since the event switched to a two-day format, cheered on as blossoming 3-year-old star, Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate, bested hometown favorite California Chrome, North America’s richest racehorse, at the wire to win the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic today at Santa Anita Park.
Saturday’s attendance at Santa Anita was the highest for any Breeders’ Cup day since 72,730 were on hand at Churchill Downs in 2010 to see legendary race mare Zenyatta in the final race of her career. The two-day attendance for 2016 was 118,484, the highest in Breeders’ Cup history.
Common-pool wagering on Saturday’s 12-race Breeders’ Cup card was $109,055,897, a 3.2% increase over the $105,625,491 wagered in 2015. Common-pool wagering for the two days was $159,991,803 an increase of 6.25% over the $150,574,656 total in 2015.
Saturday’s on-track handle was $13,515,269, an increase of 3.5% over last year’s on-track handle at Keeneland. The on-track handle at Santa Anita for the two days was $20,694,235.
“The Breeders’ Cup exists to showcase the very best of Thoroughbred racing and we witnessed that over the last two days,” Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Craig Fravel said. “We want to thank racing fans here and around the world for watching and wagering on our event. Santa Anita showed again why it is such a spectacular venue for our championships and we also want to thank our hosts from the Stronach Group, its staff, our volunteers and the cites of Arcadia and Pasadena.”
Breeders’ Cup will release a complete event recap with total handle, including separate pools, early this week.
Breeders’ Cup Two-Day Attendance and Handle (common-pool) history:
2016, Santa Anita Park – 118,484; $157,541,737
2015, Keeneland Race Course – 94,652; $150,574,656
2014, Santa Anita Park – 98,319; $151,794,174
2013, Santa Anita Park – 94,628; $160,704,877 (includes separate pools)
2012, Santa Anita Park – 89,742; $144,272,332
2011, Churchill Downs – 105,820; $161,512,867
2010, Churchill Downs – 114,353; $173,857,697
2009, Santa Anita Park – 96,496; $153,271,176
2008, Santa Anita Park – 86,588; $155,740,328
2007, Monmouth Park – 69,584; $129,197,262
Information provided by Breeders’ Cup