This weekend was the first time in its 80 year history that Del Mar Racetrack hosted the Breeders’ Cup’s two days of competition. During Saturday’s seven Breeders’ Cup races, the seaside track was the site of some very large payouts.
The biggest upset came in the sixth race, the 7 furlong Filly and Mare Sprint. Trainer John Kimmel’s longshot Bar of Gold led the charge to pass favorite Unique Bella for the win. The payout for a $2 bet on Bar of Gold was a huge $135.40!
Bar of Gold’s win had been preceded by another upset when stablemates Stormy Liberal and Richard’s Boy came in first and second in the Turf Sprint, paying $62.40 and $13 respectively. Trainer Peter Miller and owner Gary Hartunian were thrilled by the finishes. Little did they know they’d be celebrating just three races later when their Roy H would win the TwinSpires Sprint.
Other longshot results of the day included:
Caledonia Road- $36.60 in the 14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies
Wuheida- $24.40 in the Filly and Mare Turf
Talismanic- $30.20 in the Longines Turf
Good Magic- $25 in the Sentient Jet Juvenile
But, a favorite dominated the featured final race of the day, the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Gun Runner, who started the day as the Morning Line pick, made it a wire to wire win. Prior to the race, the crowd had been favoring Arrogate with Gun Runner a close second in the wagering. The challengers had met twice before, in the Travers and the Dubai World Cup, with Arrogate the victor both times.
However, on Saturday the roles reversed. Arrogate broke badly from the number one spot while Gun Runner immediately surged to the front. Despite pressure from Collected, Gun Runner held the lead all the way while his overjoyed trainer, Steve Asmussen, cheered, “Come on, Run!”
For their parts, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith were hard pressed to pinpoint why Arrogate only managed to finish fifth. Was it Del Mar’s dirt surface, refurbished this year? Was it the layout of the track which has the shortest finish stretch in the U.S.? Both acknowledged Arrogate, North America’s leading lifetime earnings record holder, just hasn’t been compatible with the Del Mar track in 2017.
Baffert was sorry Arrogate’s final career race was disappointing, saying the horse is “so much better than that.” Jockey Smith acknowledged that in Arrogate’s last three races, all of which were run at Del Mar, the big gray always made a poor start.
Arrogate now retires to stud while Gun Runner’s future may include January’s Pegasus Stakes. And, with Saturday’s big payouts, some very lucky fans headed home with extra pocket money and exciting memories of the Breeders’ Cup at the track “where the turf meets the surf.”