DEL MAR — The Aug. 19 Pacific Classic race at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club was not only the premier race of Del Mar’s season but also became a test whether Arrogate could recover from his defeat in the San Diego Handicap. Trainer Bob Baffert was able to improve Arrogate’s performance, but Baffert did one thing to prevent Arrogate from winning.
Baffert also trained Collected, who beat Arrogate by half a length to win the 27th running of the Pacific Classic.
“It’s like my older son got beat by the younger son,” Baffert said. “Both horses, they ran great.”
The win was the fourth in a row for Collected and jockey Martin Garcia and the eighth in 11 starts for Collected, whose most recent loss was the 2016 Preakness. His three non-winning races include a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes on Nov. 29, 2015, which was Collected’s first stakes race and had been his only race at Del Mar prior to the Pacific Classic. The Cecil B. DeMille Stakes was also Collected’s most recent race on a turf course.
“There’s no shame in getting beat by Collected,” Baffert said.
“He’s a deserving winner,” Baffert said. “Arrogate got beat, but he didn’t get beat by a bad horse. He got beat by a good horse.”
Speedway Stable, LLC, which is the racing entity of Peter and Ann Fluor and Kane Weiner, purchased Collected as a 2-year-old. “We were taking a chance and we bought the horse,” Peter Fluor said. “We thought he’d be a perfect build for Bob’s program.”
Collected was foaled in Kentucky on March 24, 2013. He was sired by City Zip out of Helena Bay.
“He’s good on the grass, he’s good on the dirt,” Fluor said.
Arrogate had won his previous seven races prior to the fourth-place finish July 22 in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap and his only other loss prior to the Pacific Classic was in his first race in April 2016, which is also Arrogate’s only race on the Los Alamitos course. His $17,302,600 in career earnings including $200,000 from the Pacific Classic is a record for North American horses (his race prior to the San Diego Handicap was the Dubai World Cup, which paid the winner $6,000,000, and he also took the 60 percent winner’s share in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Florida and the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic which last year was at Santa Anita Park).
“We’re proud of Collected to beat Arrogate,” Fluor said. “It’s a big thrill for us. Arrogate’s a legend and he’s done everything.”
Seven horses contested the 1 1/4-mile dirt race, and Collected led for the entirety. “He had that nice little rhythm and he looked great in the paddock,” Baffert said.
Collected had a half-length lead over second-place Accelerate, who won the San Diego Handicap, and a length lead over third-place Arrogate a quarter of a mile into the race, which took him 23.76 seconds.
“We knew that he was faster than Accelerate,” Baffert said.
Collected led Accelerate and Arrogate by the same margins 47.19 seconds after the starting gate was opened when he crossed the half-mile marker.
“I knew that I was going to the front,” Garcia said.
“He knows his horse very well,” Baffert said of Garcia. “He knows how to ration that speed out.”
Three-quarters of a mile into the race, which took Collected 1:11.06, he led Accelerate by half a length while Arrogate was still in third place but a length and a half behind Accelerate. A mile into the race Collected led Accelerate by one length and Arrogate by 3 1/2 lengths.
Collected entered the stretch 2 1/2 lengths in front of Accelerate and three lengths ahead of Arrogate.
“For a while there it didn’t look like he was going to do anything,” Baffert said of Arrogate.
Mike Smith was Arrogate’s jockey. “I could see that Mike Smith was really having to work on him,” Baffert said.
Arrogate finished 3 3/4 lengths in front of Accelerate, who was the third horse across the finish line.
“I was praying that I would reach that wire first,” Garcia said. “Arrogate, he was laying it down,” Baffert said. “That last eighth of a mile he was just throwing it down there.”
Collected had a winning time of 2:00.70.
“He liked the track,” Garcia said.
“He had a very good time in the race,” Fluor said.
“Collected, he was good today and he’s a good horse,” Baffert said.
The $600,000 share of the $1,000,000 total purse brought Collected’s career earnings to $1,260,500.
“I told Bob before the race I hope you run one-two, but I have a preference,” Fluor said.