DEL MAR, CA – The racing world welcomed back Arrogate, the richest race horse in North American history, in what was supposed to be a celebrated return since last winning the Dubai World Cup on March 25.
That celebration did not happen.
In one of the most unbelievable outcomes in recent years, the Juddmonte Farms colt never seemed right the entire race, finishing a distance fourth as the 1-20 favorite. Instead, it was Accelerate who did the romping, winning the Grade 2, $300,000 TVG San Diego Handicap by 8 1/2 lengths on Saturday at Del Mar.
“I’m at a loss for words,” said Arrogate’s jockey Mike Smith. “He just was flat, so flat. We were going around there OK, and then I took him outside like I did in Dubai (where he won the Dubai World Cup in his last start March 25), but he just didn’t pick it up. So I dropped him inside again and cut the corner, then wheeled him outside once more and tried to get something from him, but he was just flat. He wasn’t trying. So I just wrapped up on him and got him home safe. We’ve got to go back and start over again. Get it back right.”
At the break, Accelerate assumed the lead after El Huerfano stumbled badly leaving the gate, knocking jockey Evin Roman out of the irons. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Accelerate was never threatened on the front end and finished 15 1/4 lengths ahead of Arrogate in a final time of 1:42.15 for the 1 1/16-mile race.
“I was surprised by how far I won, but I wasn’t surprised that I did; I was here to win,” said Espinoza. “I thought I’d sit second or third, but when that speed horse (El Huerfano) stumbled at the start, I made an easy lead. (Accelerate) got in a nice rhythm; he was going easy. He’s a nice horse. This is the first time I rode him. I hope he can go on so we can look at the (TVG) Pacific Classic (on August 19).”
Reduced to a five-horse field after the scratch of Dalmore, the 4-year-old son of Lookin at Lucky trained by John Sadler and owned by Hronis Racing was second choice in the betting at 7-1.
“He liked this track last year; you know he won two here last year,” said Sadler. “He trained really well Sunday up at Santa Anita and showed a lot of pop when Victor worked him from the gate, and they kept telling me it was $50,000 for second. You want to win, you don’t want to concede anything, but I’m surprised we won because Arrogate is the best horse in the world. A couple of things went right for us, and one of them was that Arrogate didn’t fire his best. That’s what has to happen for these big upsets.”
Donworth crossed the line in second, followed by Cat Burglar, Arrogate, and El Huerfano.
Arrogate entered the race off of seven consecutive wins and more than $17 million earned, including four Grade/Group 1 wins: the Travers Stakes, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Pegasus World Cup, and the Dubai World Cup. He carried nine pounds more than the winner, Accelerate, who was carrying 117.
“He was just flat,” said Arrogate’s trainer Bob Baffert. “I knew coming down here can be tough. Maybe I should have blown him out (down here). Mike said he was just flat and never in the race did he feel he had any horse. The other horse (Cat Burglar) was flat, too. I thought he’d run better than that, but he just didn’t want to go. I think he (Arrogate) just laid an egg. I don’t think it had anything to do with the track. He was just flat.”
Accelerate returned $17.60, $32.60, and $22. Donworth brought back $119.80 and $67.40, while Cat Burglar paid $38.20 to show.