Baffert's Not Stymied About Arrogate
By ~ Dusty Nathan
Arrogate raced exactly as planned. I truly hope Baffert and friends made a flat $20 million gambling over the past three races he couldn't possibly win. That would equal about everything he made in horse racing over the past 40 years, with the exception that the Arrogate pool money is tax-free.
(Please! Don't start with your naive bullshit that nobody would bet against Arrogate intentionally in a $6 million race. Consult D. Wayne Lukas and the score they made when Thunder Gulch won the Ky Derby, as the two Lukas faves were also-rans. Many reports have London bookies getting banged for more than $5 million in that one race.)
Last Thursday morning, Arrogate took to the track at Del Mar. After watching the first five seconds or so, I didn't think he'd make it around the track without being vanned off. He looked exactly the way he looked when the gate opened on Saturday afternoon in the Breeders Cup Classic.
Then, Bob Baffert (again) declared how "great" he looked.
Bob Baffert and company must have been creaming their jeans as the numbnuts were shaking their heads in agreement.
If one can watch that Thursday morning move and not know Arrogate didn't have a prayer of hitting the board they should stop pretending they know how Thoroughbreds (great, world-class, Thoroughbreds) should appear, and go make a legitimate living as a Congressman or comedian.
This has been going on for years in big races. Ironically everyone knows in a beaten $5,000 claimer there's "business" every race.
Yet, intelligent people cannot believe it happens in a $6 million race. "Think" again. There was probably $75 million bet on this race, legally and illegally worldwide. Much in pari-mutuel pools and much through legal and illegal bookmakers. Just in the Del Mar pools, there was $7,522,411 in the win, place and show pools and $22 million in the gimmicks, for a grand total of $30 million.
Arrogate began and ended his career with a loss. He began making insiders money on another day of Baffert uncoupled entries. In the Travers when the horse first showed his world-class speed at 11.70-to1. He ran a lifetime top 122 Beyer and won by 13. In that race, Baffert was touting his other horse who went off about 5-1. Do you really think Baffert is a buffoon?
One can only guess that Baffert is just constantly "surprised" by this horse - win or lose. Wink, wink.
Arrogate got good at exactly the right moment. He was under wraps in the three races Ralphie Bejarano rode and won with him against maidens and classified allowance horses as the heavy chalk.
On June 14, 2016, Bejarano only by five lengths but got a thorough reaming from Baffert for showing a 103 Beyer. In his next start, he jogged home in a never-won-two-other in a 99.
Then the Saratoga score!
His next start was deceiving. He couldn't keep up with an about-to-retire California Chrome for 1990 meters, before lunging at the wire to get up in the Breeders Cup Classic. He beat a wonderful champion.
In his next start he was odds-on to win a mint in the Pegasus at Gulfstream. He won. He beat the "memorable" and "sensational" duo of Shaman Ghost and Neolithic. (Two horses that nobody including their owners will remember in 2022.)
They say "money can't buy you love." Obviously, it can't buy a great field of horses on some days.
Then on to Dubai. There's no betting at Meydan but I can assure you Arrogate paid $3 or less in pools worldwide. He got left at the gate - with no shot to win - and still was able to forge a long sustained move to win in 2:02.15. That's slower than the track record set in 2016 by California Chrome.
Arrogate's winning streak is very similar to the Perfect Storm in reverse. In that true story, a number of low-pressure systems merged to form one of the worst possible scenarios for the skipper and his crew stuck in the middle of the ocean. Arrogate earned his money on the square. It's just he got good during a 30-week period when the all-time purse distribution was about to be passed out. He got lucky in that he was alone, unlike Easy Goer and Sunday Silence or Affirmed and Alydar.
After Dubai, Arrogate was a new horse. As the Baffert testimonials became more like sermons, I was amazed at how average Arrogate was looking in his drills - even the "bullet" works. "Time," as they say, "only counts in prison." Arrogate's body attitude had changed. He wasn't galloping, he was skipping along. Changing leads every few hundred meters, head cocked sharply to the right. At times he'd drop he his head, a good sign in most cases. But not when you drop it and cock it hard to the left. And a slight limp in his stride began to show when he was walking . . .
Like Songbird, who couldn't possibly do anything but retire after being life-and-death in a glorified stake test against claimers this summer, she did not have the luxury of avoiding the winner's circle as Arrogate has.
Songbird stood there, eyes squinting, wincing in pain. Up with the left hind, then shifting up with the right. Juggling weight, sweating profusely (albeit extremely hot and steamy out), and surrounded by her trainer, owners, and stable hands. Nobody noticed? I mentioned it repeatedly and was admonished by 100 percent of those who watched exactly the same race and the same winner's circle presentation that I did.
That didn't stop Songbird from racing on, either. She promptly retired after her next dud. The surgeon's statement was precisely what I had been mentioning for weeks, including from the day in that winner's circle.
It seems if it looks like a champ, sounds like a champ, smells like a champ and the trainer lies like a champ --- the public wants to believe and can't wait to empty out. Moreover, it doesn't matter if they couldn't do their laundry on Sunday, July 23, Sunday, August 20 and today, they still await Baffert's next tip. And, he's been tipping them on to the loser all the way back to when he was training Quarter Horses on the Arizona-Mexican border.
Bob Baffert is not the best trainer who ever lived. He is the smartest - bar none. Look at the barn and owners he has amassed. Look at the payoffs of the winners and losers - often the same horse like Arrogate. As a trainer, Baffert has made only $10 million - day rate and commissions combined.
Always - that's a-l-w-a-y-s - look to beat every favorite. Two-thirds of them lose. But if you can beat an Arrogate or a Songbird and have the ammunition to play Pic-3, Pic-4, Pic-5 and Pic-6 tickets, you could end up with millions.
Back to the "smart money." Arrogate was the chalk. He was favored in all the pools, except place and show.
By the way, there was one other pool Arrogate wasn't the favorite. The pool where the big money bets:
Gun Runner was the chalk to win in the Pick 6 pool, returning $388,423.60.
POST TIME WITH J.J. GRACI
Could history’s greatest mare be the greatest horse? Winx is trying to tell us something. Is anybody listening?
DUSTY NATHAN·SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2017
Just watched and listened to Hugh Bowman walk back to weigh out aboard Winx. She wasn't sweating. She wasn't blowing. It was as if she hadn't even had a work today. Humidor, the runner-up was game and kept the great mare to task. However, Bowman was measuring her off if you watch the stretch drive closely.
It's up to the trainer, Chris Waller, and the owners of Magic Bloodstock now. Do they want to be one of the Australian greats or do they strive to become the greatest racehorse in history?
To rise above all of the elites in history would take Winx upon an ill-advisable course.
I advise it.
Today was the first of a few steps to separate her from Man O'War, Secretariat, Frankel, Seattle Slew, Round T and Kelso. Next would be the quarantine and shipment to the Japan Cup which goes on Sunday, November 27, 2017.
She's been nominated and invited by the JRA.
She should be allowed to seek her true destiny. Off the month's rest, she would tear the bridles off their talented faces, and would get five pounds from the older males under the race's conditions.
Fortunately, the $2 million bonus will be provided to the winner of the upcoming Japan Cup, if the horse was a winner of any of the 24 designated races overseas this year, including the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Dubai Sheema Classic, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Caulfield Cup, Breeders' Cup Turf, or Cox Plate. For winners of such designated races, a bonus will be given for finishing runner-up ($400,000), third place ($250,000) and fourth place or below ($100,000) in the Japan Cup.
My sources have told me the JRA will give Winx another $1 million in expenses, travelling and appearance fees. A win in Tokyo will net her connections in US dollars, $2.6 million (from the $5.6 million purse). Plus the $2 million winners bonus (Cox-Japan Cup); in addition to the $1 million appearance fee, all totalling $5.6 million.
The question from skeptics is the 2400 meter run (about 1 1/2 miles) over the undulating Tokyo Race Course turf. It is a silly question, indeed.
Winx is by Street Cry, the sire of Zenyatta and Street Sense. On the dam's side Winx is out of the Kiwi mare, Vegas Showgirl, thrice removed from Northern Dancer, who also appears in Street Cry's lineage. Vegas Showgirl sold for nearly $500,000 as a broodmare prospect.
Winx wants distance when one inspects her entire lineage dating back a hundred years when both sides of the tree were either British or French. Also, let's not forget Winx has already won at 2200 meters.
The dilemma is whether it's cruel to go on. A relevant point if Winx wasn't licking her feed bucket clean, even as I write this an hour after the Cox Plate. In the morning she'll awaken and want to race. Truly, in her case, it would be more cruel to walk her around the shed row rather than gallop her around Mooney Valley.
My guess is the Japan Cup would end in Winx shattering the track record of 2:22.1 (that's 10 lengths quicker than Secretariat's 2400 in the Belmont). Now I want you to picture two things. Secretariat drawing away on the far turn at Belmont. And, now picture Winx running up from 12 lengths back to collar and run past Secretariat, as the opinion here is she very possibly could be the greatest Thoroughbred horse in history, bar none.
Can an Aussie compete against Group 1 types in Tokyo? The rumors that Aussies and Kiwis are inferior horse without class must have begun by somebody whose parents are also siblings.
Better Loosen Up (Aus, JC win in1990) and Horlicks (NZ, JC win in 1989) both won the Japan Cup. In fact, it's widely believed Horlicks, a New Zealand bred, was jilted by his clocking of 2:22.2, and should have been awarded the course record.
In closing, Winx, in the opinion here can, win from 1200 to 3000 meters, in any class. I believe she is unbeatable in present time, and should next put her streak on the line in Tokyo. Then, the long and deserved break until March 12, when she should go in a Group 2 dirt prep at Meydan in Dubai in preparation for the March 26 Dubai World Cup (or the easy way out, Dubai Sheema Classic).
Worry not. Gun Runner couldn't win a fixed race against Winx! Dirt, turf, synthetic, over hurdles, on the pace, trot or canter.
As the Romans once said, "On to England!" Winx would be rested from the DWC until the big enchilada QEII at Ascot on July 28.
Starting to follow the spacing now?
From there it would be a flight home to rest up for either the Arc or the Breeders Cup Classic, both in the Fall 2018.
The long flight home.
60-days to freshen up for a newly named race, "The Winx Invitational," a Group 1 at Warwick Farm, in early summer 2019, at the track where Winx broke her maiden many years ago.
Insanely lofty schedule? Absolutely. That's what differentiates between Personal Ensign and Zenyatta; or Dr. Fager and Cigar.
To rise above all of the elites in history would take Winx upon an ill-advisable course. I advise it.
Remember how Secretariat ended his career?
CASINOS WILL NOT FIX HORSE RACING
~ By Dusty Nathan
Slot machines are not going to fix horse racing. But they have greatly enriched those who could afford to play in the new higher stakes arena - the fanless arena of fading hope.
Are we the objective ones, seeing through a tainted reflection of what we know and love?
This once iconic sport is on a course of doom. Perhaps each time something like this Pennsylvania budget bill passes it buys another 3-5 years. Remember, though, nothing promised by politicos is every set in stone - even the promise to repay millions it already stole from horsemen if the government ever reneges again.
The doom stems from the lack of betting pools. Parimutuel racing is a side show to the main event - blackjack, roulette wheels, slots and now 24/7 gaming in people's living rooms.
Yet, a proper Commissioner, angry for the right reasons, staunch in integrity, not beholding to any party within the game or outside it, could possibly turn it around. In the meantime, those still racing, will do so in front of empty seats, little to no wagering opportunities, fewer and fewer fans to introduce to the game who eventually became owners.
Yes, one can make money if one can afford to corner the market. That costs millions annually and you only have to be wrong for a year or two to be out, as buying horses is like betting on horses. It's a gamble.
And, what makes VLTs a dead-end road is that the more the machines proliferate and become ubiquitous, the less meaningful the infusion. Like a drug addict becoming immune to the dosage, participants will need more money for the farrier, the feed man, the vet, the tack shop, stall rent (with electricity, water, waste removal), the transport man, the entry fees, the toll collector, and gas station. In the near the future, you'll need to put something aside on every horse for new mandates, yet to be known, such as the "equine retirement center" and "out-of-competition testing."
It all falls under the Laws of Diminishing Returns, as less comes in while fixed expenses increase. I'm going on the air in 100 minutes to the JJ Graci and Samm Graci show from 3-5 p.m. today. I'll be on a 4. Tune in as you'll be surprised at what I'll be saying today, and writing later tonight.