World Class: Frosted slips down pecking order

Arrogate joined the 130 club when a brilliant winner of the Travers Stakes

PICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos Frosted slips down pecking order By Sam Walker 12:00PM 7 SEP 2016

ARROGATE smashed the track record to land the Travers Stakes two weeks ago and his RPR of 131 means three of the world's top four horses are now American trained.

Bob Baffert's lightly raced three-year-old won by an insane 13 and a half lengths on his first foray into Graded company, kicking dirt in the eyes of some of the best of his generation in one of the most prestigious Grade 1 events in the US calendar.

He now joins world leader California Chrome (133) and runaway Met Mile winner Frosted (130) in the exclusive 130 club on RPRs, making this one of the strongest years for US racing this side of the millennium.

Breeders' Cup clash on cards

What's more, this year's trio of stars could be set to feature in one of the strongest races of 2016, with all three pointed towards the Breeders' Cup Classic in November.

California Chrome is hugely consistent and sets a formidable standard, but Frosted and Arrogate have posted one-off freakish performances which put them in with a shot at winning the Classic, bagging the Horse of the Year title and becoming world champion.

Arrogate's Travers win was visually stunning and he smashed the clock in a time of 1min 59.36sec.

The form and time combine to make this performance out of the ordinary.

He enjoyed the run of the race out in front, he had the rail from the inside draw and nothing from the rear ever got involved, but nevertheless the win clearly points to a horse of huge potential.

Frosted struggles

Classic rival Frosted wasn't nearly so impressive in the Woodward Stakes on Saturday. Sent off a 2-5 chance, he held a huge advantage on the ratings but could finish only a close third.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin pointed out his horse ran further and carried more weight than the pair who narrowly beat him and he still came out as clearly the best in the race on RPRs, with a mark of 115 compared to winner Shaman Ghost's 112.

But this was still below what was expected from Frosted – and well below his 130 best.

Extenuating circumstances

There were extenuating circumstances. McLaughlin said before his previous win in the Whitney Stakes that a lengthy break between races was "the most important thing" for Frosted and, as I pointed out four weeks ago, turning him out just 28 days later was probably not a smart move.

Then there was the fact jockey Joel Rosario refused to use the whip on Frosted because the horse hadn't responded well to it on previous rides. This may be the way to ride him, but the method has to be called into question when he was beaten by such a small margin after travelling strongly into the straight.

However you cut it, though, Frosted looks the weakest link among the big three as far as the Classic is concerned – mainly because of the 1m2f distance. He has lost all five starts over 1m2f or further while coming out best at the weights in his last seven starts over shorter distances, winning five.

Connections are yet to declare a firm target for Frosted in the wake of this defeat, but the Classic still looks likely as the decision rests with owner Sheikh Mohammed, who has long coveted the Classic and probably rarely bothered thinking about the Dirt Mile, which was created in 2007.

Golden year

The Classic often helps crown the Eclipse Horse of the Year and if Frosted turns up against Arrogate and California Chrome, this year's winner really will prove himself the best.

This is far from a typical year for US racing. In fact, until American Pharoah came along last year a dirt horse hadn't been crowned outright world champion since Ghostzapper in 2005. Yet here we have three US horses scrapping for the world title.

As well as dominating the global list, the big three also rank up among the top-ten US horses of the last decade with the likes of American Pharoah (138), Invasor (132), Curlin (131) and Blame (131).

Hartnell exploits Winx absence

Aussie superstar Winx was due to bid for an 11th straight win in the Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick on Saturday, but trainer Chris Waller decided the heavy ground was against her and she was scratched.

In her absence, the ex-Mark Johnston horse Hartnell (118+) took his chance to shine, posting a career-best performance for Godolphin trainer John O'Shea to win by a cosy seven and three-quarter lengths.

He made a bright start to his new life down under last year, including winning the BMW in March 2015, but he looks an improved performer this season and should make his presence felt in the big spring carnival races.

That said, he was well and truly put in his place by Winx on his previous start, like everything else in Australia, and Waller's star mare remains the one to beat.

TOP LIST

Name (country trained)RaceRating
1California Chrome (US)Pacific Classic133D
2A Shin Hikari (Jpn)Prix d'Ispahan131T
Arrogate (US)Travers Stakes131D
4Frosted (US)Metropolitan Handicap130D
5Postponed (GB)Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup126T
Winx (Aus)Doncaster Mile126T
7Aerovelocity (HK)Centenary Sprint Cup125T
Dortmund (US)San Diego Handicap125D
Fascinating Rock (Ire)Tattersalls Gold Cup125T
Limato (GB)Darley July Cup125T
Mecca's Angel (GB)Nunthorpe Stakes125T

TURF

Name (country trained)RaceRating
1A Shin Hikari (Jpn)Prix d'Ispahan131
2Postponed (GB)Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup126
Winx (Aus)Doncaster Mile126
4Aerovelocity (HK)Centenary Sprint Cup125
Fascinating Rock (Ire)Tattersalls Gold Cup125
Limato (GB)Darley July Cup125
Mecca's Angel (GB)Nunthorpe Stakes125
8Chautauqua (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124
Galileo Gold (GB)St James's Palace Stakes124
Harzand (Ire)Derby124
My Dream Boat (GB)Pricne Of Wales's Stakes124
Terravista (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124
The Gurkha (Ire)Sussex Stakes124
Time Test (GB)Brigadier Gerard124

DIRT

Name (country trained)RaceRating
1California Chrome (US)Pacific Classic133
2Arrogate (US)Travers Stakes131
3Frosted (US)Metropolitan Handicap130
4Dortmund (US)San Diego Handicap125
5Nyquist (US)Kentucky Derby124
6A.P.Indian (US)Forego Stakes123
Exaggerator (US)Haskell Invitational123
8Effinex (US)Oaklawn Handicap122
9Taris (US)Humana Distaff121
Songbird (US)Alabama Stakes121

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