Trainer Bob Baffert considers Arrogate only had “one of those days” Saturday.
“It happens,” Baffert said Sunday of the 4-year-old colt’s monumental upset loss in the San Diego Handicap. “It has happened to me earlier.
“Physically, he’s good. If he puts out another attempt like that, I think you’d have to ask queries. Chalk this up to a bad race.”
Baffert said he watched video of the race “over and above,” and discussing it with jockey Mike Smith. He questioned how he prepared Arrogate for the 11/16-mile race onto the dirt — that the colt’s first start since winning the Dubai World Cup in late March.
“I did not have him as sharp as I wanted,” said Baffert. “But he looked great before the race. You do go back and look. I prepped him pretty much like usual, but I came into this race thinking I really didn’t have to do that much with him. I didn’t want to have him to run that hard. … I didn’t think he’d have to.
“Maybe we could have pressed the issue earlier. They got away from him. On this track, you have to be up close, you can’t be too far back.
“The horse that won (Accelerate) ran a strong race. They were ready for me. John Sadler did a great job with Accelerate. It’s disappointing, but Arrogate is OK and that’s all that matters. He’ll be ready next time.”
“Next time” remains the Aug. 19 Pacific Classic. After that the plan is for the Nov. 4 Breeders Cup Classic. The two of those races are also at Del Mar..
“Arrogate should move forward from this,” said Baffert. “As long as he’s working well and nothing comes up, we’re going in the Pacific Classic. I wanted to give him a race here thinking it would be a great workout for him. But the Pacific Classic is the main aim.”
Arrogate, who went off as the 1-20 favorite as the No. 1-ranked thoroughbred on the planet, finished fourth among five horses, beaten by more than 15 lengths. Before Saturday, he had won seven straight races since a narrow loss in his debut this past year.
“Mike said he was flat,” Baffert continued. “He said before the race, Arrogate was quiet and not his normal aggressive nature. He said during the race he was flat.
“That wasn’t him (Arrogate). The first inclination is to ask, ‘Is something amiss?’ I don’t see anything physically and nothing showed up physically.
“He came back covered in dirt and swallowed some dirt. He had dirt in his eyes and mouth. He was coughing. If something isn’t right, it normally shows up in 72 hours. Right now, I don’t see anything and I’m not contemplating anything.
“He looks great. He just didn’t fire.”
Baffert salvaged something for the weekend when Abel Tasman followed her win in the Kentucky Oaks by winning the 101st running of the American Oaks at Saratoga with Smith aboard.
Madam Dancealot wins
For the 2nd straight day, the feature produced an upset — although nothing of the magnitude of Saturday.
Irish-bred Madam Dancealot rallied down the stretch to win the 50th running of the San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies. The Grade II stakes was run over a mile on the turf.
Madam Dancelot went off at 21-1, the second-longest shot in the area of six. Second-favored Lull gave up the lead in the final strides to finish second while odds-on favorite Sircat Sally ran third. Sircat Sally, who was a perfect 7-for-7 entering the race, suffered a fractured foreleg in the race and has been retired, owner Joe Turner told The Blood Horse.
“The way she was finishing the last two races on the grass down hill at Santa Anita, I thought she could get a mile,” said Madam Dancealot’s trainer Richard Baltas. “She’s settled now and relaxed.”
“She needed to relax,” said jockey Jamie Theriot. “I thought she was going to finish strong and she did.”
The Pick Six will have a carryover of $96,509 when the second week of the Del Mar meet begins Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Gary Stevens rode Blackjackcat to victory in the 28th running of the Wickerr Stakes.
Center is an independent writer.