Arrogate clinches three-year-old title and in our view Horse of the Year

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

November 6th, 2016

A potential dilemma in the race for champion three-year-old male was resolved Saturday when Arrogate ran down California Chrome to claim all the glory in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1).

Arrogate's season of stakes participation was incredibly brief, consisting of a mere two starts. However, when you demolish your peers, including classic winner Exaggerator, in the Travers (G1) while smashing a 37-year-old track record in the process, and then defeat the horse that was considered the best in the land in the Classic, no more evidence is necessary.

By doing what he did, Arrogate avoids the necessity of turning around on short rest and padding his CV with a start in the Clark H. (G1). Now the attention turns to his four-year-old campaign rather than scrounging for more votes to surpass Nyquist.

The argument in regards to Horse of the Year will be heated. This race should have decided things, but there are already some wanting to give California Chrome another Horse of the Year title despite losing the Classic for a second time. There's no question he was the horse of all horses for 10 months and a week, but from this view that torch was passed, fair and square, in slightly over two minutes on Saturday.

I wouldn't be surprised in the least if this view winds up being a minority one. It happened in the Zenyatta-Blame debate of six years ago, and there have been other times. From this vantage point, all of the spoils were up for grabs in the Classic and the winners should be allowed to reap them.

As we wrote last night, Beholder clinched her second champion older mare title, and fourth division title overall, with her epic win in the Distaff (G1). California Chrome and Tepin ended the .0001 uncertainty of their respective candidacies for older male and turf female on Saturday. Classic Empire is the champion juvenile colt, and longshot winner Champagne Room is the choice for juvenile filly.

More contentious divisions include the sprint categories and turf male. Drefong's win in the Sprint (G1) over Masochistic and A. P. Indian surely was enough, though there have been contrary opinions being floated. Finest City did fine in one-turn attempts this year and probably will get the female sprint award on the basis of her Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) win, but her generally modest record this year lends support to the argument that splitting the sprint title in two a decade ago probably wasn't the best idea.

Highland Reel's score in the Turf (G1) over Flintshire was one of the most impressive of the weekend, but Flintshire's body of work in this country was pretty solid. Personally, when a domestic-based horse has put together a strong-enough record, the preference is to award them rather than a one-shot foreign invader. It's a divisional race I'll be thinking about more in the weeks ahead.

There's a lot more to be said and debated, but for now I'll just say it was one hell of a Breeders' Cup. Though most of the fan favorites met defeat, the event totally lived up to the hype.

(Teresa Genaro photo)