- HORSE OF THE YEAR CONTENDER ARROGATE IN 2017 DEBUT
- A ‘POLL’ OF TRAINERS FAVORS CHROME OVER ARROGATE
- ARROGATE GALLOPS MILE FOR TOMORROW’S SAN PASQUAL
ARROGATE SAN PASQUAL WIN WOULD AID HOY BID
Arrogate is a certainty to be a finalist for the Eclipse Award as the 2016 Horse of the Year, his credentials confirmed with wins in the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August and a memorable victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 5.
The quest for a 2017 championship begins at the first opportunity–in Sunday’s $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita.
Ballots for the 2016 championship are due on Jan. 3 with an announcement on the finalists to be made later.
Arrogate is a no-brainer for three-year-old male, while his main rival for Horse of the Year, California Chrome, is a lock for top older horse.
Both have merits for the Horse of the Year title
“It’s a tough call,” said respected private clocker and bloodstock agent Gary Young. “I think they are by far and away the best horses in America, and Arrogate definitely should be three-year-old of the year, and Chrome should definitely be older horse of the year.
“Now who gets Horse of the Year? I don’t know. They’re two very, very good horses. I couldn’t fault people who vote for either horse.”
For the record, Arrogate, trained by Bob Baffert, fresh off a Triple Crown triumph with Horse of the Year American Pharoah in 2015, has but two stakes wins this year, the Grade I Travers by 13 ½ lengths in track record time, and the Classic, which capped a five-race winning streak.
Chrome, on the other hand, was undefeated this year under the direction of trainer Art Sherman until Arrogate took his measure, winning six straight, three of them Grade I’s.
“To have two horses back to back like a Pharoah and an Arrogate in this close of a time frame, that’s like when Lucien Lauren had Riva Ridge and Secretariat back to back (Riva Ridge was the Eclipse Award-winning two-year-old male in 1971 and outstanding older male in 1973; the mighty Secretariat was Horse of the Year as a two-year-old in 1972 and at three in 1973).
“Arrogate and California Chrome are just two really good horses,” Young said. “We’ll just leave it at that for now.”
As an afterthought, what about two-year-old filly champion of 2015 Songbird, who won four Grade I stakes from coast to coast on three different tracks and suffered her lone defeat by the narrowest of noses to an older mare, three-time Eclipse champion Beholder?
Not exactly chopped liver.
The field for the San Pasqual, race eight of nine: Prospect Park, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 10-1; Accelerate, Tyler Baze, 8-1; Dalmore, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1; Midnight Storm, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; and Arrogate, Mike Smith, 1-5.
TRAINERS FANCY CHROME FOR HORSE OF THE YEAR
Arrogate or California Chrome, California Chrome or Arrogate.
Arrogate defeated California Chrome by a half-length in a dramatic running of the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 5. It was his second stakes appearance, both wins in Grade I races.
Chrome’s body of work last year took him from the Golden State to Dubai as the popular California-bred boosted his earnings to $14,452,650, a North American record.
So when it comes to Horse of the Year for 2016, a random sampling of Santa Anita-based trainers Saturday morning when the main track was closed for training due to rain drew a majority of Chrome votes:
Richard Baltas: Arrogate. He beat Chrome heads up.
Rafael Beccera: Chrome. Art Sherman, he’s my man.
Simon Callaghan: Arrogate.
Jack Carava: Chrome. He ran well all year. He’s a tough horse.
Victor Garcia: Chrome’s been solid all the time. He deserves it.
Mark Glatt: They should be co-winners. You can’t take anything away from Chrome but Arrogate did beat him, and it wasn’t because of a bad ride. Chrome’s been a machine.
Bruce Headley: Chrome. Art (trainer Art Sherman) has the best horse in the world, and when he was young, he galloped the best horse in the world–Swaps.
Brian Koriner: Chrome deserves it for the year he had. He traveled all over. He’s retiring; Arrogate can win it next year.
Paulo Lobo: Arrogate. He beat Chrome.
Mike Machowsky: Chrome should get it. Arrogate’s racing next year and he can get it then. This is more about bragging rights, anyway. Chrome’s people were true sportsmen for racing him all year when they could have retired him, but they’re both super horses.
Alfredo Marquez: Chrome. He should have won the Classic. He’s a great horse.
Jeff Mullins: Chrome deserves it. I hope he gets it.
Jorge Periban: Chrome.
John Shirreffs: I’m a Chromie. He’s a Cal-bred, c’mon.
Gary Stute: No comment.
FINISH LINES: Arrogate galloped one mile on the training track Saturday at 8:40 a.m. under exercise rider Dana Barnes . . . There are no guaranteed pools in exotic wagering today due to inclement weather . . . Hearty get-well wishes to longtime horse owner and Major League baseball star (three World Series rings with the 1952, ’53 and ’56 Yankees) Irv Noren, 92, who was hospitalized yesterday but is now recovering at home in Oceanside from a bout with pneumonia . . . Belated condolences to family and friends of late handicapper and turf writer Russ Harris, who died Tuesday in Bryn Mawr, Pa., at the age of 93. A 2011 inductee in the National Museum of Racing’s Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor and one of the best and most widely recognized public handicappers of all time, Harris served in the U.S. Army during World War II in Normandy, France, and also participated in the Rhineland Ardennes and Central Europe campaign, receiving several medals for his service. Harris swept the nine-race card at Belmont Park with his top selections on May 8, 1981 . . . Santa Anita offers Dollar Day tomorrow, with hot dogs, beer and soda available for just a buck. Santa Anita will be dark for live racing Tuesday through Thursday, with live racing resuming Friday, Jan. 6, at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m. . . . Players wishing to gain a seat in the 2017 National Handicapping Championship Challenge in Las Vegas Jan. 7 or get a head start in the 2018 event can buy in to Santa Anita’s Players Choice contest for $500. The top five finishers in the Players Choice competition will have their pick of a 2017 or 2018 NHC Challenge entry. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top four Players Choice finishers: $10,000, $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000. For further information, visit santaanita.com/contest.