Once again, Del Mar is no turf paradise for Arrogate
DEL MAR — Those who find the Golden State Warriors inescapable and insufferable shouldn’t have visited Del Mar on Saturday.
Coach Steve Kerr, assistant coach Bruce Fraser and owner Joe Lacob were there, along with their friend Lawrence, as in the O’Brien Trophy.
Then came the million-dollar Pacific Classic, and maybe the Warriors’ many competitors and detractors had an epiphany.
Is there any way to somehow deepen the floor when the Warriors play? Can they find some sort of sticky compound that swallows their sneakers in the wood?
Then they might look like Arrogate, so unbeatable just a few months ago, so ungainly on the heavy grains of Del Mar.
The reigning Horse of the Year was an uncompetitive fourth here in July, but this was a mile-and-a-quarter distance. Again he was a heavy favorite. With Collected and Accelerate running in front, jockey Mike Smith notified Arrogate on the backstretch that it was go time.
“At that point I didn’t think we would finish third,” Smith said, walking back to the jocks’ room after Collected won his fourth consecutive race and probably became the favorite for the Breeders Cup Classic here in November.
On several occasions Arrogate seemed to close in, but then he would lose the scent. As the threesome entered the stretch, Accelerate began to fade, and Arrogate finally located a gear. He chased Collected hard to the wire.
That quarter-mile sprint provided hope to Baffert, but not victory. Now Arrogate has come up short twice after he had won his first eight, while shattering records and taking down California Chrome.’
The fact that Baffert also trained Collected should have tempered the wound, but not really.
“He was really laying it down,” Baffert said. “I felt so much better the way he ran at the end. There’s no shame in losing to Collected. But he had to show something today. If he didn’t show some will to win and to run better, it was going to be devastating for all of us.”
He shook his head. “I felt a lot of pressure today,” he said.
The problem with training ttwo horses is that only one can win. Baffert was happy for owner Peter Flour and Speedway Stables, and for Garcia, who won his first meet of this Del Mar meet and his second Pacific Classic (he won with Game On Dude in 2013).
But once you’ve trained chateaubriand like American Pharoah, a T-bone won’t do.
“It’s still exciting,” Baffert said. “But I feel like my older son got beat by my younger son.”
Smith, for his part, seemed less enthused by the final burst than Baffert was.
“When I asked him to go, he never went,” Smith said.
He pantomimed Arrogate’s action by slowly thrusting each of his arms forward, like Frankenstein.
“He got longer and longer and longer,” Smith said. “When he usually goes, he gets real compact. He gets everything underneath him and drops down and just accelerates. It was like he was trying to pull himself out of whatever.”
That, of course, sounds like a Del Mar problem. But Arrogate has won here before, on August 4 of last year, although his Beyer Speed Figure in that race was 99, the only time in a 5-race span that it didn’t hit 100.
“He’s going to have to run on this track again,” Smith said. “Everyone else is handling it.”
“In saying that, he was only a neck away from the horse that’s probably going to be favored (in November). He’s not hanging his head. It’s not like he’s aggravated. All in all I’m just glad I finished second.”
Garcia rode both horses in the mornings last week. He said Collected runs hard all the time, and Arrogate runs hard when he sees a target ahead of him and then slacks off a bit. And Collected shouldn’t be downplayed just because Arrogate is off his feed. Collected is undefeated in four races this year, and the other three were at Santa Anita, where he won the Precisionist by 14 lengths.
Fluor and partner K.C. Weiner run Texas Crude Energy and Speedway Stables. Fluor’s father Robert was the owner of the powerhouse Fluor Corporation and was a prominent horse owner as well.
“If you asked for a dream trip, it would be Collected winning and Arrogate finishing second,” Fluor said. “I told Bob before the race that I hoped he ran 1-2. But I had a preference.”
Is Arrogate still No. 1?
“I still think he is, for what he’s accomplished,” Baffert said. “But that’s why you have the Breeders’ Cup.”
Since there’s virtually no chance Zaza Pachulia will step on Collected’s foot, this could be some trophy dash.
Powered by WPeMatico