DEL MAR, CA – Bob Baffert’s pair of trainees took home the top two positions, but not in the order that most fans had hoped, as Collected wired the field and held off Arrogate in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1,000,000 Pacific Classic.
With the win, Collected earned an all-fees-waived berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 4 here at Del Mar.
Jockey Martin Garcia kept Collected under a tight hold early while leading through fractions of :23.76, :47.19, 1:11.06, and 1:35.27. Meanwhile, Mike Smith was aboard Arrogate in third, desperately trying to encourage the world’s top racehorse to show signs of improvement after a dismal outing in last month’s Grade 2 San Diego Handicap.
Exiting the far turn, Smith gave his all into Arrogate and they eventually moved past Accelerate and jockey Victor Espinoza, who pulled of the San Diego Handicap but couldn’t sustain that effort here. It was too little, too late for Arrogate, however, as Collected gamely held on for his eighth career win.
“I liked where I was all the way around there,” Garcia said. “I could tell how fast we were going and my horse was relaxed. He felt so good all the way around. When I asked him at the top of the stretch, he was running 100% worth. I hit him a few times, but he was giving me his all. I could feel Mike’s horse coming. It was like an animal creeping up behind me. But we had enough to get it done.”
Though it wasn’t nearly the return to glory that many had envisioned for Arrogate, Smith was hopeful with what he felt.
“If he just improves a little bit, we’ll be all right,” Smith said. “He was a lot better today than last time; just not good enough.”
It’s rare for a trainer to nail the top two positions in a $1,000,000 Grade 1 race and be upset after, but Baffert had difficulty sharing Smith’s optimism.
“Arrogate, at least he tried today,” Baffert said. “He’s getting there, but I think that when I ran him in the San Diego, it messed up his psyche a little bit. I don’t think I have a problem bringing him back in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but he’s got to be fresh, just like Collected came in here fresh. And Collected is a very good horse.”
Accelerate held on for third, 6 1/2 lengths ahead of Curlin Road. Hard Aces, Royal Albert Hall, and Donworth completed the order of finish. Sorry Erik was scratched.
The victory was Collected’s fourth straight, all in 2017. Last out, he romped to a 14-length victory in the Grade 3 Precisionist at Santa Anita. The winner’s share of $600,000 increased his career bankroll to $1,260,500.
“Obviously, this is a big thrill,” said owner Peter Fluor. “Arrogate is a legend and I’m a great fan. I guess you’d say I’m a bit humbled by all of this, but very proud to beat Arrogate. When I have a cocktail tonight, I’ll say Collected is a special horse, too.”
Collected returned $8 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.20 to show. Arrogate brought back $2.6o place and $2.10 to show, while Accelerate paid $2.20 to show.