Tabbing Chrome to go out on top
Twelve were entered for Saturday’s $12 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) but it shapes up to be a two-horse race between Arrogate and California Chrome, who are much faster than the rest of the competition.
I am going with California Chrome.
Arrogate narrowly proved best in the 1 ¼-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and is eligible to run the table this year after the Pegasus if he remains healthy. But everything went perfectly in preparation last time and that doesn’t appear to be the case entering the Pegasus.
He missed a scheduled prep in the January 1 San Pasqual (G3) and had nearly a two-week absence from the worktab in late December-early January. Connections were dodging wet conditions in California and Arrogate has reportedly dealt with a foot issue, necessitating a special shoe to protect a hoof on Saturday.
California Chrome makes his career finale in the 1 1/8-mile race and the shorter distance hits him right between the eyes after coming up a little short in the Classic.
Art Sherman got the prep he needed, an easy win at Los Alamitos six weeks ago, and California Chrome arrived at Gulfstream Park early, familiarizing himself with the new oval with a couple of workouts including a spectacular 5-furlong breeze on January 21. The bright chestnut appears to be peaking presently, ready to go out in a blaze of glory.
It’s a short run to the first turn and I’m not concerned by post 12 for California Chrome – there’s no speed in the seven posts to his immediate inside and the two-time Horse of the Year should be able to clear all plodders a couple jumps out of the starting gate, allowing him to avoid losing much ground.
California Chrome possesses a higher cruising speed than Arrogate, who must work out a trip from the rail post with the only other two possible front-runners in the field, Neolithic and Noble Bird, nearby in posts 3 and 4. He won’t have stablemate American Freedom and Rafael Bejarano running interference for him to assure a clear path into the first turn from the inside like he did in the Travers.
It will be no shame losing to one of the best horses of the modern era and Arrogate can confirm his greatness in future engagements.
But there will be no catching California Chrome in the Pegasus World Cup.
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