This race went from a lock to a potential mess in a matter of a few weeks! Arrogate, the number one-ranked horse in the world, would normally be a 1/9 shot in this field. However, after his terrible fourth-place effort in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap last month, he is now far from a lock. Rumors are swirling that the gray wonder hates the surface at Del Mar. Some clockers said that his last workout leading up to the race was great, while others said that the work was extremely poor. This preview will be much different that our normal weekly outlooks because this is much different from a normal race. It’s one of the most pivotal races that I’ve ever seen. Before we get into that, here are the two scenarios that you need to worry about from a handicapping prospective:
Scenario 1: Arrogate runs his normal race
If this happens, then the race will have no doubt. Accelerate and Collected are doing extremely well heading into this race, but neither of them are Arrogate. If the monster just had an off day in the San Diego Handicap and returns to form, the rest of these horses are running for second. The question then becomes: What price are you willing to take on Arrogate? At 1/9, you must play against, but if he’s anywhere close to his morning line of even money, then I think you HAMMER him. Even money on Arrogate in ANY race in the United States seemed like an absolute dream once he crossed the wire first in the Dubai World Cup. I’ll happily take that price in this race. I’ll go as low as 3/5 before looking elsewhere.
Scenario 2: Arrogate throws in another clunker
We’ll talk about what that would mean for Arrogate’s future later, but let’s first take a look at it from a handicapper’s view. Two horses jump off the screen at you once you get past Arrogate: Collected and Accelerate. The latter beat Arrogate in the San Diego Handicap, while the former has run away from all of his competition three straight times this year. The good news on both horses is that they both seem to LOVE this track’s surface. Accelerate ran the race of his life in the San Diego Handicap, and the workout reports suggest that Collected couldn’t be happier when training over the dirt track at old Del Mar. These two are clearly the dangers to Arrogate and the logical alternatives.
It’s all about the odds. Here are my plans from a straight wager prospective:
-IF Arrogate is 3/5 or better, then he is the play
-IF Arrogate is lower than 3/5, and Collected is 3/1 or higher, then Collected is the play
-IF Arrogate is lower than 3/5, and Collected is lower than 3/1, and Accelerate is 7/2 or higher, then Accelerate is the play
-IF none of those scenarios happen, then I would not make a straight wager on this race
-Exotics: Use Arrogate, Collected, and Accelerate while throwing Curlin Road into the bottom spots.
The biggest storyline of the race, and perhaps the most important storyline of the entire year, hinges on this race regarding what will be next for Arrogate. A loss in the Pacific Classic almost certainly will lead to retirement. Our great friend and occasional website contributor Ryan Stillman (@theryanstillman) asked me earlier in the week about five scenarios that could happen with this race and how it would effect the future for Arrogate. Here were the scenarios and my answers:
1,) What happens if he runs like last time?
He will most likely be done and retired. If he truly hates Del Mar, then there’s nothing to shoot for at the end of the year, and if it’s not the track that he hates, then he might just have spent himself with those four unbelievable races in a row.
2.) What happens if he wins but in a very close race?
In this scenario, it would probably be determined that he still hates the Del Mar surface, but he was “all heart” and battled through it. This would lead to major speculation about the Breeders’ Cup Classic and his chances. Any kind of win would probably lead to Arrogate staying in training, though, which would be a good thing.
3.) What happens if he loses in a close race to the horse who beat him last time out?
He’s most likely done if this happens. With a win, Accelerate would then become the second choice for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, behind Gun Runner. Also, Accelerate would not get credit for the win as much as Arrogate would be blamed for losing, and I would imagine that the excuse would be Arrogate hating the surface.
4.) What happens if he wins by a lot, but the time is nothing special, and he looks like he’s truly not liking the track?
He’ll press on to the Classic with doubts in everyone’s mind that he can beat Gun Runner at Del Mar. This scenario is probably an unlikely one, but you never know. If the top two horses past Arrogate don’t run well, it is possible that Arrogate could win while still not looking all that great. However, a win of any kind will most likely boost the confidence of his connections.
5.) What happens if he romps and the last race was just one of those things?
All things are back to normal and he’s 1/9 to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.
The Pacific Classic was once thought to be an exhibition that featured the world’s best racehorse romping at 1/9. Now, it’s MUCH more than that, as the champ must prove himself again, and his competition won’t make it easy on him. Arrogate has won several races that are much more prestigious than this, and he hopefully has more to come. However, with the Breeders’ Cup being at Del Mar this year, the Pacific Classic just became the biggest race of his life. If he truly hates Del Mar’s surface, then all of his year-end goals are off the table. Saturday could be Arrogate’s last race. It could also be Arrogate’s redemption party. He may have won $12 million in January and $10 million in March, but the stakes couldn’t be higher for him in here.
Finally… since going to Del Mar, I can’t get enough of this song! If you are going to the Pacific Classic this weekend, ENJOY!
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