After sending Arrogate out for a routine gallop around Gulfstream Park Friday morning, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert handled a variety of requests from national and international media concerning Saturday's $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1).
Baffert said that everything is going smoothly with Juddmonte Farms' champion colt, who will again meet two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome, along with 10 other contenders, in the first running of the world's richest horse race.
“He's doing fine. He shipped well. He's gotten over the track really well,” Baffert said. “We're anticipating another big race out of him. The break is going to be crucial. He has to break. If he doesn't break, well, it's going to be tough. We're looking forward to it. It's a tough race; we're running against California Chrome. Hopefully, when they turn for home he's right there running. We're looking forward to it. It's exciting. We've never run for this kind of purse before.”
Stronach Group founder Frank Stronach has brought the Pegasus World Cup from concept to reality and its first running will feature the two top-ranked horses from 2016, Arrogate and California Chrome. The pair tangled in the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 5, with Arrogate prevailing by a half-length.
Baffert said it is clear that the unique race has gotten everyone's attention.
“I think everybody is watching it,” he said. “It's not only the $12 million, but it's the matchup, you've got Chrome and Arrogate running again. It would be like Songbird and Beholder matching up again.”
Baffert said the timing is perfect for the race.
“In racing, there always is a little lull,” he said. “We have to wait for the spring for something big to happen. It's something that Frank had an idea and I don't think they will get a tougher Pegasus than they have today.
“When I heard about the idea last year, I thought, ‘wow!' I'm sure American Pharoah would have been in there for one more try at it. That would have been a lot of fun. I just feel lucky that I had a horse like Arrogate that I could run in this race. we heard about it we thought, ‘well, maybe we'll take a look at it, he's doing well.'”
With the race in late January, California Chrome is able to compete one final time for a huge purse before retiring to stud at Taylor Made Farm.
“The concept is good,” Baffert said. “A lot our horses, especially the top colts, go to the breeding shed because there is so much value. Just like American Pharoah, he was worth so much more in the breeding shed. Some horses are, some horses aren't. When you get to run for that kind of money, then you will wait a month before you go to the breeding shed to take a crack at it.
“Plus, it's good for our own racing in general to watch something like this. What else would we be doing right now? Getting ready for the Super Bowl? C'mon. This is our Super Bowl.”
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