Trainer Bob Baffert said all 11 of his Breeders' Cup horses came out of their races in fine shape. The Baffert stable finished the weekend with four seconds – Collected (Classic), Solomon (Sentient Jet Juvenile), Alluring Star (14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies) and Abel Tasman (Longines Distaff) and a third – West Coast (Classic) – in the 34th Breeders' Cup.
Baffet's defending champs, Arrogate in the Classic and Drefong in the Sprint, were not factors in their races. Arrogate, the narrow favorite in the Classic wagering, finished in a dead heat for fifth with Gunnevera. It was his third straight loss, all at Del Mar, after speeding to the top of the racing world with seven straight victories.
Drefong, starting from an inside post position, No. 2, ended up sixth, 7 3/4 lengths behind Roy H.
“It was disappointing, but the biggest disappointment was the big horse not showing up and Drefong in that post position and not breaking,” Baffert said. “My two that I really thought could win, it just didn't go right. I didn't get the racing luck and the big horse didn't show up for some reason. I thought he would show up. I'm not blaming the track or anything. I think it was mental.”
Arrogate was scheduled to be retired after the Classic. He will be shipped to Juddmonte Farms in Kentucky Monday and will begin stud duties in 2018.
Runner-up Collected, owned by Speedway Stable, will remain in training and Baffert said he is a candidate for the $16 million Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park. Gary and Mary West's 3-year-old West Coast finished third in the Classic and is definitely headed to the Pegasus. Eighth-place finisher Mubtaahij, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, will stay in training as well with Baffert.
Baffert said Arrogate was sound and fine, but turned in a flat performance.
“He just went through the motions. At the end he started taking off a little bit. Today in the stall he's all amped up. He broke flat-footed and then he got into it, but not at anytime did I ever think (he would challenge Gun Runner). He was just in that long stride and just coming around there. He didn't have that fire that he usually has.”
Arrogate last raced in the Pacific Classic in August at Del Mar, finishing a closing second to Collected. Baffert said he was encouraged the try the Classic by the way the 4yo colt trained at his home base at Santa Anita.
“I was worried about bringing him back here,” Baffert said. “At Santa Anita I thought he was working well enough to do it. He's sound. He's healthy. It's got to be mental with him right now.”
Collected was a pace presser throughout and ended up 2 1/4 lengths behind Gun Runner.
“He got a little tired there at the end, but he was going toe to toe with that horse pretty well,” Baffert said. “For an instant there I thought maybe he was going to put him away, but Gun Runner was just too tough. The great horse that he is, he just fended him off.”
West Coast rose to prominence winning the Travers and the Pennsylvania Derby on the lead. He was third throughout most of the race and didn't make up ground in the stretch when the pace slowed.
“West Coast, I thought he would be coming late,” Baffert said. “I think he wanted to be a closer, too. I didn't really want to have all of them too close there.”
Drefong is owned by Charles Chu's Baoma Corp. Baffert said a decision on the 4yo colt's future will be made in the next week or two.
“He was on the hot pace and then he was out there by himself. He got beat by a pretty good horse. Chad Brown was telling me that it was his best 2-year-old. He ran well. He's getting better. I thought he could move way up, but he's not there yet.”
Baffert said he wasn't sure what was ahead for Mor Spirit, the beaten favorite in the Dirt Mile, who appears to have lost interest in training and racing. He said his other Dirt Mile horse, Cupid, was being retired.
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