Arrogate can’t quite catch up to Collected at Pacific Classic

DEL MAR  Collected, on one afternoon at least, showed he’s at least as good if not better than his stablemate Saturday when he held on to beat Arrogate by a half-length in the $1 million Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
The past four Pacific Classics, while won by some of the best horses that have ever run, were devoid of drama in the stretch as California Chrome, Beholder, Shared Belief and Game On Dude made it look easy.
But the 27th edition of Del Mar’s signature race was full of suspense as Collected, who led all the way while setting fractions of 23.76, 47.19 and 1:11.06, had to hold off a late charge by Arrogate to win his fourth consecutive race under Martin Garcia while running the mile and a quarter in a very good 2:00.70 over a track that has been playing slow all summer.
“I feel like my older son got beat by the younger son,” winning trainer Bob Baffert said.
It was Baffert’s fifth Pacific Classic victory, breaking a tie with Richard Mandella and moving him into second all time behind only the late Bobby Frankel’s six. It was Garcia’s second Pacific Classic win after scoring with Game On Dude in 2013.
“When he went down the backside, I told Bode (his son) and Jill (his wife), ‘Man, Collected is going to be tough to beat,’” Baffert said.
He was a prophet, though Garcia said he heard Arrogate coming late as the on-track crowd of 23,509 roared.
“I can feel a big animal coming behind me,” he said. “It’s like when you are in a little car and a big car is coming … you can hear the noise. I was praying I could reach the wire first, and I did.”
It looked like a three-horse race on paper, and that’s the way it played out as the top three in the betting — Collected (3-1), Arrogate (3-5) and San Diego Handicap winner Accelerate (3-1) — ran 1-2-3 throughout the race. Arrogate went past Accelerate in mid-stretch and finished 3 3/4 lengths ahead of the latter, who held third by 6 1/2 lengths over 29-1 longshot Curlin Road.
Collected won for the eighth time in 11 starts overall and improved his bankroll to $1,260,500. The 4-year-old son of City Zip is four for four this year, coming into Saturday’s race off a 14-length rout in the Grade III Precisionist Stakes at Santa Anita on June 24.
Garcia has ridden Collected in nine of his 11 races, including all four in 2017, and said he felt confident throughout.
“I liked where I was all the way around there,” he said. “I could tell how fast we were going and my horse was relaxed. He felt so good, all the way around. When I asked him at the top of the stretch, he was running 100 percent worth. I hit him a few times, but he was giving me his all.”
Arrogate, who went into the race off a puzzling fourth-place finish, beaten 15 1/4 lengths, in the San Diego Handicap on July 22, was a lot better Saturday but couldn’t catch the winner with a late charge after jockey Mike Smith steered the 4-year-old Unbridled’s Song colt to the outside in mid-stretch.
“If he just improves a little bit, we’ll be all right,” Smith said. “He was a lot better today than last time. Just not good enough.”
Baffert said he was more nervous than usual before the race because of the drama surrounding Arrogate. Would be rebound off a poor performance after winning four consecutive Grade I races in scintillating fashion?
He was pleased by what he saw.
“That last eighth of a mile, he was just throwing it down,” Baffert said. “He was trying to get there badly.”
Baffert said he’ll bring Arrogate into the Breeders’ Cup off workouts and may find a prep race for Collected, who’s suddenly joined Arrogate and Gun Runner atop the older handicap division.
“Collected could come back here (Breeders’ Cup) and do it again and then we’ll be talking about (him),” Baffert said. “You have to be good on that day, and Collected was good today. He’s a good horse.”

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