The 2016 BC Classic looked like it was in the bag for California Chrome.
Breaking well from the gate, the five-year old champion took the lead right away and asserted a strong lead position. He went off as the 4/5 favorite and was trailed early by Melatonin, Effinex and Frosted with Arrogate about four lengths off the pace. They hit the first quarter-mile in a brisk :23.28, increasing the pace to :47.15 at the half and the three-quarter in 1:10.96.
Nothing changed in terms of order for much of the 2016 BC Classic aside from Arrogate taking a stronger position while he worked along the outside in to third as the pack hit the final turn. Sensing danger, Victor Espinoza whipped his head around twice to see where Arrogate was and turned California Chrome loose. It was a place we’d seen California Chrome many times before – out in front ready to close out a big race.
But Arrogate had much different intentions and unleashed a frenetic dash down the homestretch. With less than a furlong to go, Arrogate found a gear nobody expected him to have and overtook California Chrome to seal the 2016 BC Classic with an upset victory.
At 8/5 Arrogate was worth $5.40, $2.80, and $2.60. California Chrome delivered $2.60 and $2.40 while Keen Ice finished a distant third to pay $5.80.
It was a surprising end to an absolute thriller of a race, and even trainer Bob Baffert was stunned by Arrogate’s performance. “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,” Baffert said. “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.”
Indeed, it looked like California Chrome had built an insurmountable lead in the 2016 BC Classic. “I never thought he would be able to catch Chrome,” Baffert continued.
Legendary jockey Mike Smith, who was aboard Arrogate for his 25th win at the world championships, was just as astonished. “This was incredible today,” said Smith.”You just don’t see things like this from a young three-year-old. He literally was prancing after the race was over. He’s so talented. He’s got amazing stamina. He doesn’t quit. He could have gone around again. He’s incredible.”
While the storybook ending for California Chrome slipped through his grasp at the 2016 BC Classic, trainer Art Sherman was resilient in defeat. “He’s still a champion in my eyes,” Sherman began. “He ran a great race. They were 10 lengths in front of the rest of them. It was a dominant performance by two horses.”
The two are likely pointed for a rematch sooner rather than later thanks to the advent of the Pegasus World Cup, a new $12 million blockbuster that will run in January.