Pegasus Profiles: The Big Two

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

January 26th, 2017

Saturday’s inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus (G1) at Gulfstream Park promises to be exciting and may turn out to be a two-horse race between the biggest stars in North American racing, Horse of the Year California Chrome and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Arrogate.

I’ve profiled the other 10 Pegasus runners at the TwinSpires Blog and here are my thoughts on the top two contenders (program numbers included):

#1 ARROGATE – Bob Baffert pupil rapidly ascended in stature in 2016, winning three straight in Southern California over modest foes prior to a record-setting tally in the Travers S. (G1) when demoralizing his fellow sophomores with incredible ease. The Juddmonte homebred has speed and seemingly never tires, which is obviously a fine combination, and I believe Arrogate has room for improvement after being so lightly raced in anticipation of this test.

Son of Unbridled’s Song has trained in superb fashion since annexing the Classic and as long as Arrogate breaks well from the tricky rail post, I can’t envision him not hooking up with Chrome to stage another memorable finish as we get the 2017 season off to a flying start. Note that the four-year-old accomplished his Travers glory from the rail in a big field, as well. Mike Smith will ride the imposing colt and I expect Arrogate to be ahead of California Chrome in early stretch, seeking to prove he can defeat his rival in different fashion after wearing him down on the outside at Santa Anita.  

#12 CALIFORNIA CHROME – North America’s all-time leading money earner stubbed his toe just once in 2016 when recording a very game second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and California Chrome will go down as one of the most accomplished runners we have witnessed over the past few decades, to say the least. The California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit can take his show on the road with relative ease and the reigning Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) hero had the benefit of a prep, waltzing in a Los Alamitos stakes while Arrogate missed a planned a planned prep due to wet conditions.

While statistics indicate breaking from the 12 post in 1 1/8-mile races on this oval is far from ideal, I actually like that the soon-to-be stallion will be in the clear from the opening bell and should have no excuses in making his initial outing at Gulfstream Park. Equipped with an abundance of natural speed, we expect Victor Espinoza to get this superstar over and in position early on, not losing much ground along the way. And in this test, California Chrome could be the one pressing the early action before attempting to run down Arrogate, which is the opposite of what occurred at Santa Anita in November. A victory would be a fitting way for the California legend to cap a sublime career. 

(Arrogate photo courtesy of Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)