By Alicia Wincze-Hughes
The question trainer Bob Baffert kept asking himself was the same one the racing community wondered. Just how good was Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate? And what would possibly happen if jockey Mike Smith ever really asked him to unleash all of his form?
The answer to all of the above came roaring down the Santa Anita Park stretch with ever-increasing strides, catching the champion no one had been able to reel in this season and ending all doubt about how legitmate his brilliance is.
The 33rd edition of the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) indeed proved to be a two-horse race, as Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner Arrogate wore down 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome to win the 1 1/4-mile test by a half-length Nov. 5. The victory gave Baffert his third consecutive victory in the test.
The 3-year-old Arrogate has been a wunderkind in his brief career, winning the Travers by 13 1/2 lengths Aug. 27 in his first try against stakes company in what was just his fifth career start. After racing in third down the backstretch, as California Chrome set fractions of :23.28 and :47.15, the lanky colt set about grinding his older, champion rival down and got up in the final strides to hand California Chrome his first loss in seven 2016 starts.
Keen Ice came in third.