The rematch discussed and anticipated since the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) result went official Nov. 5 has taken a significant step toward becoming reality.
Juddmonte Farms, owner of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Arrogate, announced Dec. 22 it has entered into an agreement to purchase Coolmore Stud's entry slot in the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park Jan 28 and confirmed Arrogate "will continue his preparation with that race in mind."
Details of the transaction were not disclosed other than "it is for the 2017 Pegasus World Cup Invitational only."
The Pegasus World Cup will be contested over 1 1/8 miles and is unique in that would-be participants had to purchase one of 12 spots in the starting gate for a $1 million price tag. Owners with a spot in the gate can race, lease, contract, share a starter, or sell their place in the starting gate. Original entrants will have the first option to participate in future Pegasus World Cup races.
Juddmonte securing a starting berth in the Pegasus World Cup all but solidifies that, barring injury or ailment, Arrogate and 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome are set to knock heads one last time before the latter retires to stud at Taylor Made Farm. It is a sequel many have clamored for in the wake of Arrogate defeating his elder, champion rival by half a length in the $6 million Classic—handing California Chrome his lone loss in eight starts this year.
Arrogate's Breeders' Cup win was all the more impressive considering the 3-year-old son of Unbridled's Song was making just his sixth career start. The lanky gray runner was unraced at age 2, broke his maiden at Santa Anita Park on June 5 and captured the Aug. 27 Travers Stakes (gr. I) by 13 1/2 lengths in track record time in what was his first graded stakes try.
In an interview with BloodHorse earlier this month, Juddmonte Farms manager Garrett O'Rourke spoke about the desire on behalf of owner Prince Khalid Abdullah to support new racing initiatives such as the Pegasus World Cup.
"It is a great idea and anyone that comes up with an idea for a new race like this—and they're trying to make something very, very positive happen in the racing industry in the month of January when usually nobody is talking about horse racing, it deserves at least consideration for as much support as we could give to it," O'Rourke said. "All things being equal, we would definitely go because we just feel like this is something that obviously has a tremendous reward. It's an idea that you would like to see being supported."
Arrogate turned in a seven-furlong move in 1:24 4/5 at Santa Anita Dec. 21 after which trainer Bob Baffert stated he was "on the fence" about whether the colt would run in the Jan. 1 San Pasqual (gr. II) and/or Pegasus World Cup, but reiterated how pleased he has been with the colt's progression since his Breeders' Cup run.
"If I see the slightest thing that I don't want to run him, we'll just play it by ear. But right now, I haven't seen anything like that," Baffert said Wednesday. "That's pretty incredible to do what he's done. It's all pretty exciting."