Arrogate (Mike Smith) wins the Dubai World Cup from Gun Runner
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
ONE man with a unique view of Arrogate’s stunning Dubai World Cup victory at Meydan was second-home Gun Runner’s jockey Florent Geroux, who says he would relish a rematch with the superstar despite his mount being ruthlessly dispatched in the straight.
Geroux was generous in his praise but, while Arrogate’s connections have compared their horse to Secretariat, the French-born jockey believes the Steve Asmussen-trained runner-up would have plenty to offer should the pair cross swords again in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar in November.
“In my opinion the two horses are likely to be heading along similar lines and, if we can avoid Arrogate a little during the course of the season, it would be great to take him on again at the end of the year in a race like the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” said Geroux, who finished fifth in the earners’ list in the States last season. “We wouldn’t just be running for second, that’s for sure.”
Arrogate was sent off a 1-3 chance on Saturday but had to overcome a terrible start and an awful passage through the race before stamping his class on the field.
“I had a trouble-free trip and all the problems were with him, breaking poorly then finding himself at the back and stuck wide,” said Geroux. “But he won easily and he’s an exceptional horse, certainly much the best in the world on that evidence.”
Mike Smith, who rode the winner, may have spent much of the flight back to the US trying to process what he had experienced on the superstar, but another Smith, Ascot’s international surpremo Nick, was in no doubt Meydan had been treated to the crowning moment in the meeting’s history.
Having scoured the globe in search of international talent to run at Ascot, Smith has a hard-earned reputation as one of world racing’s most respected observers.
And he was in no doubt Arrogate has replaced the likes of Cigar, California Chrome and even the mighty Dubai Millennium as the most impressive winner of the World Cup.
He said: “The only race you can compare it with is the way Arazi won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile more than 25 years ago.
“That’s the only other occasion I can think of where a horse came from a seemingly impossible position and, having found his stride, then actually won with consummate ease in the end.
‘Crowning moment of racing in Dubai’
“It’s one of the most visually striking things I’ve seen on a racecourse and without any question the crowning moment in the relatively short history of racing in Dubai.”
Trainer Bob Baffert has established himself as one of the biggest players on the world stage, with Arrogate arriving in his barn hard on the heels of Triple Crown and Classic winner American Pharoah.
Smith added: “Bob brings a flash of colour and, if it’s not with this horse, hopefully he’ll come to Ascot one day. We have been lucky to see Arrogate quite frequently and, having missed out on a Triple Crown campaign, we’re seeing the best of him.
“They could have easily stayed home but they took all the risks and for him to do what he did was fantastic for world racing.”
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