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Countdown to the Breeders' Cup World Championships Newsletter - August 16, 2017

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Advisory: This is the first of nine weekly news releases focusing on the horses and races leading to the 34th Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, November 3 and Saturday, November 4 at Del Mar. For more information, please visit www.breederscup.com. The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live on NBC and NBCSN. You can follow all the contenders’ activity leading up to the Breeders’ Cup with Equibase’s free "Road to the Breeders’ Cup" Virtual Stable notification service.

Arrogate Looks to Reassert Dominance in "Win and You’re In" TVG Pacific Classic

Defending Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner ARROGATE will look to rebound from a stunning defeat and confirm his status as the definitive favorite for this year’s race when he starts as the even-money favorite against seven rivals in Saturday’s $1 million “Win and You’re In” TVG Pacific Classic (GI), with a guaranteed starting berth into the Classic up for grabs. The Pacific Classic headlines a stellar card that also includes the “Win and You’re In” Del Mar Handicap (GII), which will award an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), as well as the Del Mar Oaks (GI).

This Saturday’s Pacific Classic, which will air live on NBCSN from 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET as a part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Win and You’re In – Presented by Lane’s End Farm and America’s Best Racing telecast, takes on added significance, as it will be run over the same track and distance that this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. That puts the 1¼-mile race as that much more of a pivotal start for Juddmonte Farm’s Arrogate, as he had by far the worst effort of his brilliant career when fourth as the 1/9 favorite in the local prep, the July 22 TVG San Diego Handicap(GII). The 4-year-old son of 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Unbridled’s Song is the top ranked horse in Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings for 2017, off successive wins in the Travers (GI) at Saratoga and Classic at Santa Anita to end 2016, and then the inaugural Pegasus World Cup (GI) at Gulfstream Park in January and Dubai World Cup (GI) in March. Arrogate is 7-for-9 lifetime for trainer Bob Baffert but will start with some semblance of vulnerability off such a stunning defeat.

Arrogate, the gray by Unbridled’s Song was assigned Post 8 at a special “Draw Party” Tuesday evening at the popular Brigantine restaurant on the high ground overlooking the seaside oval and once again will be handled by his Hall of Fame partner, Mike Smith. The mile and a quarter crucible, which will reward its winner with a prize of $600,000, will go off at approximately 5:40 p.m. as the 8th race on an 11-race card.

The Juddmonte Farms’ colt was installment as the even-money favorite by Del Mar linemaker Russ Hudak, is as substantially longer price than the 1-5 morning line he started with in the TVG San Diego Handicap here July 22. He’s also likely to finish quite a bit longer than the 1-20 odds he broke from the gate with in that mile and one-sixteenth test. The real question, though, is will he make up for a case of what subsequently proved to be disappointment of the highest order?

Going into the San Diego, Arrogate had a record of seven wins from eight starts with a bankroll that registered over $17-million, more than any other North American horse in history. But in the San Diego he managed to -- in the words of his Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert -- “lay an egg.” The husky 4-year-old never got in gear that afternoon and finished a disappointing fourth.

But his connections feel he has put that “no go” behind him and is back “to his old self” after a series of steady works since. He’ll pack 124 pounds – as will all runners in the race with the exception of the 3-year-old Sorry Erik, who gets 118 – trying to show the racing world that he’s back and that his “Horse of the World” crown still fits nicely on his classy head.

Set to take him on are the colt who beat him in the TVG San Diego, Hronis Racing’s Accelerate, along with another Hronis runner, Hard Aces; R3 Racing, Calara Farms and ERJ Racing’s Curlin Road, Reddam Racing’s Donworth, Tachycardia Stables and Twilight Racing’s Royal Albert Hall, Big Chief Racing’s Sorry Erik and Speedway Stable’s Collected. The last-named runner, a galloping winner of the Precisionist Stakes at Santa Anita in his last start, also hails from the Bob Baffert barn.

Here’s the field for the TVG Pacific Classic in post-position order with riders and morning line odds from the rail out: ROYAL ALBERT HALL (GB), Corey Nakatani, 30-1; COLLECTED, Martin Garcia, 5/2; ACCELERATE, Victor Espinoza, 3-1; SORRY ERIK, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1; HARD ACES, Santiago Gonzalez, 20-1; DONWORTH, Mario Gutierrez, 15-1; CURLIN ROAD, Flavien Prat, 20-1; ARROGATE, Mike Smith, even odds.

The Pacific Classic is the fifth of seven automatic qualifiers for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, with just Santa Anita’s Awesome Again (GI) September 30 and Belmont Park’s Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) October 7 remaining. The “Win and You’re In” action kicked off in February, when Gold Dream (JPN) won the February Stakes (GI) at Tokyo Racecourse. The stateside schedule commenced in June, when Gun Runner won the Stephen Foster (GI) at Churchill Downs, and later the Whitney (GI) at Saratoga August 5. The 3-year-olds took center stage in between, with GIRVIN winning the Haskell (GI) at Monmouth Park July 30.

Del Mar Handicap to Offer Turf Bid on Classic Undercard

An automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf will be on the line in the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap (GII), which serves as a credible supporting act to the Pacific Classic. Run at 1 3/8 miles on the Jimmy Durante turf course, the Del Mar Handicap figures to be led by Michael House’s HUNT (IRE), and Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racing’s ASHLEYLUVSSUGAR, the 1-2 finishers in the Eddie Read (GII) over the course July 22. The former, a 5-year-old son of Dark Angel (IRE) trained by Phil D’Amato, won his first career graded stakes in a slight upset over the latter, a 6-year-old son of Game Plan, the defending Del Mar Handicap winner who has been a mainstay atop the local long distance turf division the last few years for trainer Peter Eurton.

Red Baron’s Barn’s multiple graded stakes winner ITSINTHEPOST (FR) is also expected for the Del Mar Handicap, as is BIG JOHN B, FLAMBOYANT (FR), HARD ACES, HE WILL, INORDINATE, MONSTER BEA, PRIME ATTRACTION, and UP WITH THE BIRDS.

Alabama Kicks Off Big Stretch at Saratoga

A loaded summer stakes schedule continues this weekend at Saratoga in Upstate New York, when the $600,000 Alabama (GI) will be run. The demanding 1 ¼-mile test for 3-year-old will feature a rematch between Adele Dilschneider’s homebred ELATE and Gary Barber’s SALTY, the 2-3 finishers in the local Coaching Club American Oaks (GI) July 23. The former, a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, may finally be turning the corner after hinting at big promise for trainer Bill Mott, while the latter, a daughter of Quality Road, won the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) in April for trainer Mark Casse and has been a gem of consistency in the division all year.

The Alabama is the clam before the storm that is Travers Day, August 26, when six grade I stakes will be run, including four Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races, on a card that is highlighted by the historic 1¼-mile Travers, which should go a long way in helping to define a very muddled race for the 3-year-old championship. The Travers is shaping up as arguably the deepest, most competitive 3-year-old race of the year, with Kentucky Derby winner ALWAYS DREAMING looking to secure a stranglehold on the division, while “Win and You’re In” Haskell (GI) winner GIRVIN and GOOD SAMARITAN, who upset Always Dreaming and Preakness winner CLOUD COMPUTING in the local prep, the Jim Dandy (GII), also expected.

The Travers may anchor the card, but the quartet of grade I Challenge races will be showcases of their own, with dual-champion SONGBIRD, who won the 2015 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland and just missed in las year’s Longines Distaff at Santa Anita—the only loss of her career—headlining the action when she starts as a short-priced favorite in the “Win and You’re In” Personal Ensign, which will offer an automatic berth into this year’s Distaff. The Ballerina (Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint), Priority One Jets Forego (Las Vegas Dirt Mile) and Sword Dancer (Longines Turf) all figure to attract all-star fields with Breeders’ Cup berths waiting in the balance.

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News and Notes

Alice Springs Returns to Training, Eyes Breeders’ Cup Mile

Coolmore’s ALICE SPRINGS (IRE), a two-time Breeders’ Cup veteran, is back on the mend and has her sights set on a third trip to racing’s biggest weekend. Trainer Aidan O’Brien indicated the 4-year-old daughter of Galileo (IRE) exited her second-place finish in her seasonal debut in the Gladness (GIII) at Naas April 9 with a minor injury but has resumed training and will be pointed to this year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar.

“Alice Springs is on the way back,” said O’Brien. “I would like to get her ready for the Breeders’ Cup, and get a run in beforehand.”

Alice Springs was second in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland and 10th in last year’s Mile at Santa Anita. She’s 5-for-17 lifetime, with 2016 wins in a trio of group I’s; the Falmouth and Sun Chariot at Newmarket and Matron at Leopardstown.

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