All the talk for the upcoming $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (gr. I) is centered on a rematch between champion horses Arrogate and California Chrome. The last time they met was in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park on November 5, which saw Arrogate upset Chrome. Even Arrogate’s trainer, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, was shocked by the results.
“Deep down, I really wasn’t sure if we could beat California Chrome, because I still have total respect for the horse. He’s a great horse,” said Baffert. “Turning for home, I thought I was going to run second, but there’s nothing wrong with that, because Chrome is a really good horse, and running second to him is no bad thing … I never thought he would be able to catch Chrome.”
The hype for a rematch has been building ever since the Breeders’ Cup Classic and California Chrome trainer Art Sherman talked a little bit about the two horses during a recent California Chrome training session.
“I know (Arrogate) is a mile-and-a-quarter horse,” said Sherman. “A mile and an eighth will probably be a little to my benefit. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I always thought this horse could run any distance. Seven-eighths, a mile and a half—it wouldn’t make any difference.”
California Chrome and Sherman already put in a prep race in the form of the $180,000 Winter Challenge on December 17, while Baffert and Arrogate will get their prep race in on January 1st at Santa Anita Park in the $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes (gr. II).
“Boy, this media is going crazy over this race coming up,” said Sherman. “It’s all from back East. Every day somebody calls me from back East asking what I think—if I’m looking forward to the race. They’re making it like a grudge race—trying to redeem yourself. They’re building it up.
“I don’t blame them. It’ll be standing room only that day.”