It looked like a disaster at the start of Saturday’s $ 10 million Dubai World Cup as Juddmonte Farm’s Arrogate was totally unprepared for the break, leaving the gates awkwardly and then bumped hard on both sides to find himself dead last in the 14-horse field. But veteran reinsman Mike Smith never panicked aboard the champion son of Unbridled’s Song, keeping him wide and getting a clear trip all the way around the field to finish 2 1/4 lengths in front of Gun Runner at the wire, with Neolithic completing an American trifecta at the top of the world’s second-richest race. Trainer Bob Baffert was emotional after the race, his third victory in the Dubai World Cup, and couldn’t believe Arrogate’s performance over the muddy (sealed) Meydan oval, over which he completed 2000m (about 10 furlongs) in 2:02.15.
“When he missed the break, I gave him no chance at all. I was mad at myself for bringing him,” Baffert said. “That’s the greatest horse I’ve ever seen run. I can’t believe he won. That is a great horse right there.”
“‘When they turned for home, I told myself ‘If he wins, this is the best horse we’ve seen since Secretariat.’”
In the United States, Arrogate is used to having an assistant starter in the gate with him. When asked to break on his own for the first time in the Dubai World Cup, Arrogate appeared to squat down, briefly startled, then lunging awkwardly forward. Keen Ice on his outside and Furia Cruzada on his inside both broke toward the big gray colt, and effectively squeezed him back after a series of firm bumps. Suddenly, Mike Smith and Arrogate found themselves in a position they’d never been in, behind a total of 13 top-class horses with about a mile left to run.
“I immediately thought of Zenyatta,” said Mike Smith, referring to the late-running champion mare he rode throughout her star-studded career. “I’m just going to ride him like I used to Zenyatta… This horse can do anything.”
Gun Runner, meanwhile, had broken the best of the field, but Florent Geroux allowed local trainee Long River to take the lead heading into the first turn. Neolithic joined the first flight traveling three-wide, and Mubtaahij was not far behind in fourth. Gun Runner settled down into second, about three paths off the rail with plenty of clear running room just behind the front-running winner of the Third Round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, Long River.
Smith’s decision to ride Arrogate “like Zenyatta” meant that he stayed totally relaxed aboard the Breeders’ Cup and Pegasus World Cup winner,
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