Six months ago, the Breeders’ Cup Classic seemed like it was Arrogate’s to lose.
If he repeats his 2017 Del Mar form on Saturday, he will lose.
Deemed a superhorse after his victories in the Travers Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Pegasus World Cup, and Dubai World Cup, there didn’t seem much chance of anything emerging to beat him.
What may beat him are two things: himself, and the Del Mar track.
It’s possible Arrogate just isn’t capable of repeating the form that saw him lauded so much during that win streak. Maybe the Dubai last-to-first effort, combined with the travel, took too much out of him.
However, the slow Del Mar surface may also blunt some of his effectiveness – though his second in the Pacific Classic (G1) was much improved on his San Diego Handicap (G2) effort, and he is training well.
If Arrogate returns to his peak form, he’s probably going to have too much for what is a good Breeders’ Cup field.
The biggest dangers are probably Gun Runner, West Coast, and Collected.
Dubai World Cup runner-up Gun Runner has been soundly beaten by Arrogate in his previous starts, but he seems to have improved. Perhaps the best form guide is through Dubai third-place finisher Neolithic, who was five lengths behind him in Dubai, but 11 ½ lengths behind him in the Woodward Stakes (G1) Sept. 2.
West Coast carries the unknown factor into the race. The 3-year-olds have been a fairly average lot for most of the season, but he has emerged Arrogate-like in late summer as the best of his crop, and it’s unclear just how good he is.
Collected, a stablemate of Arrogate, West Coast, and Mubtaahij, has run a series of great races this year, culminating in his Pacific Classic victory, and he has to be given a chance of toppling Arrogate for a second time.
Victory for any of the other runners would be a surprise. Dual European Classic winner Churchill is unknown on dirt, but his form would need to improve on his best to be a threat here. Mubtaahij probably isn’t good enough to win, and the 3-year-olds Gunnevera and Pavel don’t have the same form of West Coast; all four may be good enough to get some of the money at their best.
It’s a fascinating race. Have a good look at the race replays to judge the form, the training gallops, and how they look before the race. It’s likely there will be some good odds available.