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Arrogate Loss Leaves Classic Wide Open

Arrogate was already penciled in as Horse of the Year by many before last weekend. Now might be a good time to rethink that, as Arrogate was badly beaten in the San Diego Handicap. He finished fourth in the field of five, more than 15 lengths back. But trainer Bob Baffert said he’ll be ready to go for the Pacific Classic.

Yet the San Diego Handicap was a major disappointment for the horse and his bettors. Of the 1,402,055 bet to show on the race, more than $1.3 million was on Arrogate. That led to show prices of $22 on Accelerate, $67.40 on Donworth and $38.20 on Cat Burglar. Donworth’s return was a Del Mar record. So was his $119.80 to place.

Jockey Mike Smith said Arrogate so quieter in the paddock and post parade than usual.

“I’m at a loss for words,” Smith said afterwards. “He just was flat. He wasn’t trying.”

Smith did everything he was supposed to. You can’t find any fault with his effort. But Baffert is a different story and said he accepts some blame. Although you have to expect a trainer to do that to take some of the blame off the horse. And Baffert is one of the best in the business. But he can make mistakes the same as anybody else.

Arrogate is still a -150 favorite to win the Breeder’s Cup Classic. But you have to think handicappers are now looking at some of the other horses a bit more closely. Gun Runner at +650 is an interesting choice. So is Always Dreaming at +1000. At +1600 you have the trio of Tapwrit, Cloud Computing and Classic Empire.

But a lot can happen between now and the Classic. A solid race by Arrogate in the Pacific Classic will have people on the bandwagon once again. But the San Diego Handicap showed that the wheels can come off at any time.

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