Arrogate more than confirmed his status as the world's best Thoroughbred with a dominant victory Saturday in the world's richest race, leaving U.S. Horse of the Year California Chrome and 10 others well in his wake.
Saturday's $12 million Grade I Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park was billed -- and shaped up to be -- a rematch of Arrogate's dramatic victory over California Chrome in the Breeders' Cup Classic last November.
The duo raced third and fourth down the backstretch in the 1 1/8-mile race with "Chrome" seeming to have Arrogate pinned on the inside. But as they neared the stretch turn, Arrogate accelerated sharply and his rival could not go with him.
As the field turned for home, Arrogate was in front and winging out to win by 4 3/4 lengths. California Chrome was well beaten, with jockey Victor Espinoza not abusing him as he eased home ninth in the 12-horse field, beaten 29 1/2 lengths, in his final race before retiring to stud.
Shaman Ghost, winner of the 2015 Queen's Plate in Canada, finished second. He is owned by Frank Stronach's Stronach Stables. Stronach also owns Gulfstream Park and conceived the Pegasus and shepherded it to fruition.
Neolithic, a lightly raced 4-year-old making his first Grade I start, finished third.
Winning trainer Bob Baffert said he was nervous before the race, knowing Arrogate would need a good break from the No. 1 post position. Once the 4-year-old son of Unbridled's Song accomplished that, Baffert said, "Down the backstretch, he was trapped in there ... What a super horse he is."
"I feel bad about California Chrome," Baffert added. "He just didn't bring his race today."
California Chrome's trainer, Art Sherman, agreed.
"Down the backstretch, he had no excuse. I don't know why. This is the only bad race he's ever run for me," Sherman said. "I just hope his babies come back to me."
Arrogate burst into prominence last summer with a record-shattering victory in the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga. After a three-months layoff, he rallied outside California Chrome in the final yards to win the Breeders' Cup Classic by 1/2 length. On the strength of that race, he was crowned Jan. 24 in London as the Longines' World's Best Racehorse, with California Chrome No. 2 on the list.
California Chrome, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2014, started 2016 with two wins in Dubai, including the $10 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup. He then scored three more victories, all in graded stakes, before the Breeders' Cup and won a minor stakes at his Los Alamitos training base as a prep for the Pegasus.
While California Chrome retires to breeding duties in Kentucky, Arrogate is expected to soldier on for his owners, Juddmonte Farms. Juddmonte's Garrett O'Rourke did not disclose specifics of his planned campaign.