ARCADIA, Calif. (UPI) -- Arrogate ran right by California Chrome, the world's top-rated horse, in deep stretch to win Saturday's $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.
California Chrome, winner of his previous six starts, led from the start in the Classic and appeared to be well in hand turning for home under Victor Espinoza. But when jockey Mike Smith asked Arrogate to go, he found another gear in the final sixteenth and got there first by a half-length.
Keen Ice was third and Hoppertunity finished third as Arrogate, in just his sixth career start, ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.11. Smith extended his record Breeders' Cup riding record to 25. Baffert won his third straight Classic, following Bayern and American Pharoah.
Arrogate, an Unbridled's Song colt, burst into national prominence when he won the Grade I Travers at Saratoga in August in his first stakes race. He won that in track-record time of 1:59.36.
Baffert said he was awed by the Travers victory but even more impressed with Arrogate's performance in the Classic. "That last 50 yards, I could not believe," he said. "To run down a great horse like California Chrome, that's what the Breeders' Cup is all about ... I've been chasing that horse for two years."
The winner is owned by Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms. The Saudi prince asked trainer Bob Baffert to select a horse for him and Baffert picked Arrogate out of the 2014 September Keeneland yearling sale for $560,000. He was bred by Clearsky Farms in Kentucky.
Garrett O'Rourke, racing manager for Juddmonte, said he and Baffert will consult with Prince Khalid about Arrogate's future. "The pointers are that he probably will run next year," O'Rourke said.
The defeat put a crimp in efforts to make California Chrome the all-time money-earning champion. The 5-year-old won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2014 and the Dubai World Cup this March. He had cruised through his first six races this year, earning the top rung on several international rankings of Thoroughbreds.
"Maybe I should have let him run just a little bit earlier," Espinoza said of California Chrome immediately after the race as an announced crowd of 72,811 cheered Arrogate's return.
The Classic was the cap on a full day of World Championship races, all Grade I events. In other action:
Tourist outlasted one of the toughest fields ever assembled for the Breeders' Cup World Championships, winning the $2 million Mile by 1/2 length over late-running defending champion Tepin.
Echoing a theme repeated throughout the weekend, a strong European contingent came up dry as Midnight Storm was third and Ironicus finished fourth. In their wake were six European runners who had won or placed in Group events this year.
Tourist, with Joel Rosario up for trainer Bill Mott, saved ground while racing in the middle of the field down the backstretch. He advanced along the rail through the turn, split rivals at the top of the lane and grabbed the lead.
Tepin put in a late run in the middle of the track but ran out of room. Tourist finished 1 mile on firm turf in 1:31.71, narrowly missing the course record.
"We got the ground we needed and the trip we desired," Mott said. "And now the rest is history.
Tourist finished eighth in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile. The 5-year-old son of Tiznow won only once previously this season, taking the Grade I Fourstardave at Saratoga in August. In his last race, he was third in the Grade I Shawell Turf Mile at Keeneland, beaten only 1/2 length by Miss Temple City and Ironicus. Miss Temple City finished fifth in Saturday's race in a game effort.
Highland Reel blasted out of the gate in the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf, opened up a huge lead and never faced a challenge, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over the favorite, Flintshire. Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Found, who won this race last year, finished a well-beaten third and Ulysses was fourth.
"I was very confident where I was and happy where I was," said winning rider Seamus Heffernan. "Maybe he's a little quicker with age."
"It was straightforward, really," added trainer Aidan O'Brien. "The race was over a long way out. Seamus executed the plan brilliantly."
The victory was a bit of redemption for the European owner, trainer and rider. The Europeans had a tough time of it earlier in the two-day Breeders' Cup World Championships.
Highland Reel, a 4-year-old colt by Galileo, started a globetrotting odyssey with a win in the Grade I Secretariat at Arlington Park last summer. He went on to win the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin last December and also landed the Group 1 King George at Royal Ascot. He was second behind Found in last month's Arc at Chantilly.
He now has seven wins and five seconds from 19 career starts for his Coolmore owner partnership and trainer O'Brien.
O'Brien said the team now must decide whether to tackle the Group 1 Japan Cup in three weeks' time or wait for a try at repeating in the Hong Kong Vase -- or both. Coolmore's Michael Tabor said he expects to keep Highland Reel in training for his 5-year-old season.
Flintshire also has been a successful international competitor, winning the Hong Kong Vase in 2014 and finishing second last year and posting a long string of runner-up finishes in Group 1 races from France and England to Dubai and Hong Kong, including a runner-up showing in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Turf. He was relocated from France to New York this year and turned over to trainer Chad Brown in hope of getting consistently firm ground and closes out the U.S. season with three wins and two seconds from five starts.
Found, a 4-year-old Galileo filly, also has been a frequent bridesmaid and finished second in the British Champion Stakes at Ascot three weeks prior to the Breeders' Cup She won last year's Breeders' Cup Turf.
Filly & Mare Turf
Queen's Trust, close without winning all season in top-shelf English races, broke through with a narrow victory over sentimental American favorite Lady Eli in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
With only yards to go, that pair emerged from behind a quick early pace set by California-based Avenge and it appeared Lady Eli had the race won. But with jockey Frankie Dettori pushing her to the limit, Queen's Trust stuck a nose in front at the wire.
Avenge stayed well to finish third and Seventh Heaven, winner of the Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks earlier this year, was fourth.
"The pace was very solid early," said Dettori, who kept Queen's Trust well back until the final turn. "I was very fortunate, mid-turn, when I got behind the favorite. I thought I was going to be a good third but then she started motoring."
Queen's Trust, a 3-year-old Dansili filly, ran 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 1:57.75. Her summer campaign included a second behind Minding in the Groups 1 Nassau at Goodwood, a third, behind Seventh Heaven and Found in the Yorkshire Oaks, and a third in the British Champions Filly & Mare Stakes just three weeks before the Breeders' Cup.
Sire Michael Stoute, who won the race for the third time, trains Queen's Trust, a Cheveley Park Stud homebred. She will remain in training as a 4-year-old.
Lady Eli was making her third start after a year-long layoff as she battled a life-threatening foot disease. The Divine Park filly was undefeated when she was stricken and now has one win and two seconds since her return.
Defrong dueled Masochistic into submission at mid-stretch in the $1.5 million TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint and ran on to a 1 1/4-lengths victory over that rival. Mind Your Biscuits was a long late to finish third.
Defrong, a 3-year-old colt by Gio Ponti, tallied his fifth straight win. It also was trainer Bob Baffert's fifth win in the Sprint. Defrong worked through his conditions at Santa Anita earlier this year, then shipped across country to win the Grade I King's Bishop at Saratoga in his first stakes try.
Masochistic came into Saturday's race after a front-running win the Grade II Pat O'Brien at Del Mar. He finished last in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Sprint.
"This is probably the sharpest he's ever been," Baffert said of Defrong. "Masochistic, he's a really good horse. Those horses really threw down in the stretch."
Filly & Mare Sprint
Finest City held on in deep stretch to win the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint by 3/4 length over last year's winner, Wavell Avenue. Paulassilverlining was third.
After starting from the outside gate, Finest City raced outside and just behind the leaders down the backstretch, inched her way to the lead turning for home and held on gamely for the victory.
Finest City, with jockey Mike Smith up for his record 24th Breeders' Cup win, covered 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.37. She came into the race winless since April, when she took the Grade II Great Lady M at Los Alamitos and the victory was only her fourth in her 14th career start for first-year trainer Ian Kruljac.
"She jumped very well today," Smith said. "She was well within herself and it was just a matter of holding them off."
Obviously, an 8-year-old mile specialist, led the way in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint down the Santa Anita hillside course and just did hold off a late run by fellow Californian, Om, for a nose victory.
Pure Sensation, based in New York, and Calgary Cat, from Canada, were third and fourth as a powerful European team was shut out of a race in which they usually are competitive.
Obviously, a Choisir gelding was bred in Ireland and the first three races of his 29-race career were in the Emerald Isle. For the past four years, he has focused on the turf mile. But after fading from the lead to finish off the board in four straight runnings of the Breeders' Cup Mile, trainer Phil D'Amato had enough and put the horse's speed to work going shorter.
He finished the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:11.33.
"I was pretty surprised to be on the lead that easily," said winning rider Flavien Prat. "But once he was on the lead, he relaxed."
Classic Empire moved to a big lead in the stretch in the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile, then had to find more as Not This Time came with a late run that fell just a neck short. It was another 7 1/2 lengths back to Practical Joke in third and Lookin at Lee was a long shot fourth.
The Pioneerof the Nile colt won his fourth race from five starts. The only loss came in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga when he wheeled at the start and lost his rider. Casse added blinkers, which helped the colt focus on the task at hand and he won the Grade I Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in preparation for the Breeders's Cup.
The victory virtually guarantees Classic Empire an Eclipse Award as the year's best 2-year-old and puts him at the forefront of 2017 Kentucky Derby candidates.
"I'm looking forward to next year," Leparoux said.
"Our goal is the first Saturday in May," Casse added.
Champagne Room pressed the pace in the $2 million 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, surged to the front as the field straightened into the lane and held off Valadorna, winning by 3/4 length.
The favorite, American Gal, started from the outside post position, swung extremely wide around the clubhouse turn and could only manage third with a late run. Daddy's Lil Darling was fourth.
Champagne Room, a daughter of Broken Vow, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.12 with Mario Gutierrez in the irons for trainer Peter Eurton. She won the Grade II Sorrento at Del Mar in her second start in August but had been third and fourth, behind some of Saturday's also-rans, in two intervening starts.
A clean start, Gutierrez said, was key to the race. "She broke really, really fast out of the gate. She was a little strong on the backstretch but after that, it was just a matter of waiting for it to be time to go."
"I think they'll want to go to the (Kentucky) Oaks," Eurton said of the owner partnership.