Arrogate validated his victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic with a convincing win over California Chrome and 10 others Saturday in the inaugural $12 million Grade I Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Arrogate, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, took control on the far turn and prevailed by 3 1/2 lengths over Shaman Ghost with Neolithic third. California Chrome, the No. 1 all-time money earner in North American history, ended his racing career by fading to ninth under jockey Victor Espinoza.
It was revealed after the race that California Chrome suffered a right knee injury.
Arrogate paid $3.80 for a $2 win bet as the 4-5 favorite and covered the 1 1/18 miles in 1:47.61 in the world's richest horse race to earn an estimated $7 million.
It was expected to be a match race between Arrogate and California Chrome, who finished second to Arrogate in the Breeders' Cup Classic in their first meeting. California Chrome was the 6-5 second choice in the wagering.
"We used the first turn to our advantage,'' Smith said after breaking from post position one with California Chrome leaving from post 12. "I noticed Victor nudging on (California Chrome) and thought, maybe he wasn't there today. Chrome just didn't fire.
"I was able to tip out and he was gone after that."
Arrogate was fourth on the first turn as Noble Bird and Neolithic were first and second, with California Chrome looming third on the outside. Noble Bird set a solid pace of 23.46 seconds through the first quarter and 46.12 for a half mile as the leaders' positions remained unchanged.
It appeared Arrogate might get hemmed in along the rail, but found an opening when California Chrome began to drop back. Arrogate easily passed the tiring pacesetters as Shaman Ghost moved into a non-threatening second down the stretch.
"I'm so relieved," Baffert said. "Down the backside he was trapped in there. When he started making that move I knew right there ... what a superior horse he is.
"I feel bad about California Chrome. He didn't run a great race today so that matchup never came about."
Said Art Sherman, California Chrome's trainer: "He didn't break as sharp and then he got wide. He didn't have the umph. He looked like he was listless. This is the first bad race he's every run for me."
Arrogate burst onto the scene last summer by winning the Grade I Travers Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga by 13 1/2 lengths in a track-record 1:59.36 for 1 1/4 miles. Arrogate's only race between the Travers and the Pegasus was his stunning half-length victory over California Chrome in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 5 -- also at 1 1/4 miles.
Arrogate, who ran his winning streak to six since finishing third in his first career race, won the Eclipse Award as the 3-year-old champion. He had never raced at 1 1/8 miles until Saturday.
Despite his loss to Arrogate, California Chrome claimed his second Horse of the Year award by winning 7 of 8 races in 2016. The 6-year-old earned his first Horse of the Year in 2014, when he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
He missed winning the Triple Crown by 1 3/4 lengths with a fourth-place performance in the Belmont before finishing third by a neck in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
The Pegasus was the brainchild of Gulfstream Park owner Frank Stronach. He sold the 12 spots in the starting gate for $1 million apiece in May. Only California Chrome, though, was being pointed toward the race when the slots were originally for sale.
Stronach purchased a slot in May and his horse -- Shaman Ghost -- earned an estimated $1.75 million. Neolithic earned some $1 million, with the other nine starters receiving $250,000 apiece.
California Chrome retires to stud at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky with a record of 16 wins, four seconds and a third in 27 starts. His official earnings entering the Pegasus were $14,502,650.