Something extraordinary could happen in the world of thoroughbred horse racing this Saturday (March 25).

The 4-year son of Unbridled’s Song, Arrogate, has the chance to win the international Triple Crown of the world’s richest races when he will challenge 13 other contenders at the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

He’s already won the other 2 legs of the trifecta including the $6 million Breeder’s Cup Classic in November 2016 and the $12 million Pegasus World Cup in Jan 2017.

Also, with a win in Dubai, Arrogate would exceed $17 million in earnings and become the all-time leading race horse in winnings.

California Chrome currently holds that record with $14 million.  Amazingly, it took him 5 years to accumulate that total, while it has only taken Arrogate 3 months.

The genius behind Arrogate’s success is his Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert.  On Saturday, he would likely cement his reputation as the G.O.A.T. amongst trainers for thoroughbreds on dirt if his horse crosses the finish line first.

Well, some already believe that to be true even without Arrogate’s wins on Baffert’s resume.

The 64-year-old Arizona native has trained horses that have won 4 Kentucky Derbies, 6 Preakness Stakes, 2 Belmont Stakes, 2 Kentucky Oaks, 14 Breeders’ Cup races and 2 Dubai World Cups.

Add to that, Baffert has a gift of bringing horses to firsts.

In 2001, he trained Point Given to become the only horse in history to win four $1 million races in a row and in 2015, he guided American Pharoah to the “Grand Slam” of American horse racing (he won all 3 Triple Crown races + the Breeder’s Cup Classic).

Baffert also drew praise in the industry for helping Pharoah to glory, since the colt had a foot injury as a juvenile and was brought to greatness in just a short period of time under his tutelage.

At the time, Baffert gave all the credit to Pharoah when he famously said, “This horse got us here.  He had what it takes.”

Yet, here we are again with Arrogate.

Baffert has taken him from a 2-year-old with shin problems who missed last year’s Triple Crown races to the brink of becoming North America’s richest thoroughbred.

I recall what Baffert said after American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, “I was part of something really big in sports history.  I’ll never forget the goose bumps I got, the deafening sound when he hit the wire and passed the wire, that I was part of something that big.”

I have a feeling he will be revisiting those sensations on Saturday, as most experts think Arrogate has a great chance to win in Dubai, and so do I.

With a decent post position at 9, only a few others in the large field will likely challenge his speed at a mile and a quarter with 2 turns.

One includes Gun Runner, a great horse with late speed and who placed 3rd in the Kentucky Derby last year. His trainer, Steve Asmussen thinks the 4-year old has shown marked improvement since then.  He said, “I think he’s better now than he was then.  He’s a very fast horse right now”. Indeed, Gun Runner finished runner-up in Sept & early Nov, then went on to win the Clark Handicap in late November and won the Razorback Handicap in February.

I also like the 6-year old Hoppertunity, another Baffert trained horse who was 3rd in the race last year and apparently “loves” Dubai.  He also won in San Antonio in February.

Mubtaahij is getting some recognition for potentially upsetting Arrogate, too.  He came in 2nd behind California Chrome and ahead of Hoppertunity in the last year’s race.  He also finished 2nd in September at the Woodward Stakes and in February at the Curlin Handicap.

Neolithic should be in the conversation since he finished 3rd in the Pegasus World Cup behind Shaman Ghost & Arrogate.  Beyond that, the 4-year-old colt trained by Todd Pletcher has won only 2 of 8 career starts but, he was recently bought into by Qatar Racing, a good sign that they expect this horse to place before potentially making him a stallion.

And then there’s Keen Ice, who finished 3rd at the 2015 Belmont Stakes and was the only horse to beat Triple Crown winner American Pharoah during his 3-year old campaign at the 2015 Travers Stakes.  He is currently being trained by Todd Pletcher as well and in 2016 came close from off the pace to finish 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Still, I’m not betting against Arrogate again after I doubted him at the Pegasus when he raced my beloved Cali Chrome.  He was magnificent then and should be the winner tomorrow.  He’s trained well all week and I remember what his jockey, Mike Smith, said about him after the Breeder’s Cup Classic win, “He has so much talent.  He’s like LeBron James”.

The only “X” factors that could affect Arrogate tomorrow include not breaking well and/or a wet track, which he has never raced on before.  Weather reports currently put the risk of rain at 20% in the afternoon.


I’m happy to report that NBC Sports Network will carry the Dubai World Cup live for the first time.  Coverage begins this Saturday, March 25 at 10:30am ET.

The race will also be streamed live on NBCSports.com & the NBC Sports app.

Set your reminders now!


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