Arrogate named best in the world
Bob Baffert believes the best is yet to come from Arrogate after he capped a sensational year on the track by being crowned the 2016 Longines World's Best Racehorse.
The four-year-old was awarded the coveted crown in London on Tuesday, having been allotted a mark of 134, giving the American trainer back-to-back titles after taking the same prize 12 months ago with the now-retired American Pharoah.
Despite meeting with defeat on his debut back in April, the son of Unbridled's Song subsequently went from strength to strength, winning each of his next five starts.
After blitzing his rivals by 13 and a half lengths in a course-record time in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August, the Khalid Abdullah-owned colt then rounded out the campaign with a hard-fought victory over California Chrome in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.
Baffert said: "To be lucky enough to come back here and have another horse of the year means a lot. After last year I never thought I would be standing on this stage. I never thought I would have another horse like American Pharoah.
"Arrogate was a bit late to the party, but he progressed rapidly. He started to bloom at the right time. It is an honour to be here again.
"He is a horse that is going to get better. They all get better with age. He is just a superior racehorse. As he is getting older I think he is getting stronger. In the Travers, that was the first time he had been full board in a race and the Breeders' Cup he was full out.
"I can see he is just getting better. American Pharoah was getting better at the end and he had a lot of races earlier.
"He has got a chance to catch him up and he is starting to show me things that American Pharoah was showing me. I just can't believe I've come here with these two great horses back-to-back, it's pretty incredible."
Baffert reports the dual Grade One winner to be in good order ahead of his bid to make it three successive victories at the top level on Saturday when renewing rivalries with California Chrome in the inaugural running of the US$12million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.
He added: "He is shipping today. It's a different vibe. There is lot of money on the line, it is the first time they have run this. Prince Khalid is a real sportsman. Usually we would give the horse a little time off, but we are running and he couldn't be doing any better.
"It is going to be a big day and history is being made and to have these two titans is like a big-race match. Hopefully they will have another thriller and we are looking forward to it."
Although having to make do with second behind Arrogate in the rankings on a mark of 133, connections of the Art Sherman-trained six-year-old California Chrome were more than satisfied with last year's Dubai World Cup winner.
Kelly Martin, racing manager and daughter of co-owner Perry Martin, said: "He is such a great horse and had a magnificent 2016. I'm so honoured that he is the second-best racehorse in the world, it is a great honour. He has taken us on a world ride and has been wonderful this year. It has been wonderful to watch.
"The Dubai World Cup was the best performance. Just seeing him pull away in the stretch took my breath away. Victor (Espinoza) rode him beautifully and Chrome did what he does."
Chris Waller was delighted to see Australian mare Winx (132) rewarded for her colossal efforts on track which saw her go unbeaten in eight starts, culminating with a second successive win in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October.
He said: "I've been privileged to have worked with great horses, whether they have been mares or colts.
"To be associated with a racehorse like Winx is very special. I think it is her determination that makes her what she is. She came in an everyday racehorse. She won her first few races, but in her three-year-old career she won as many as she lost.
"That determination is the one thing that strikes her out as a quality horse. In a race she is possessed with winning and her determination is unbelievable. Her will to win is quite exceptional. That has taken us on a ride we never expected. Maybe that takes us over on a ride to England, Ireland, France or America."
Waller then raised the exciting possibility of Winx running in Europe or at the Breeders' Cup.
He said: "Is the Arc de Triomphe out of the question for her? Maybe that is the right race for her. Obviously it's a very prestigious race. It's a matter of being level headed and picking one or two and not taking on everything.
"If we went to the Breeders' Cup why wouldn't you run over a mile on turf. But Bob Baffert said to me her racing style looks like a dirt horse and being by Street Cry he'd be surprised if she wasn't.
"I don't see any more to achieve if she wins a third Cox Plate, which is a big assignment in itself. After that I'm sure the owners would agree to a world experience."
There was more success for America after the Breeders' Cup Classic collected the prize of the Longines World's Best Horse Race.
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