Arrogate has turned Dubai World Cup into a one-horse book
It was Super Saturday at Meydan last weekend, but the only market mover for the Dubai World Cup was standing in his box.
Trainer Bob Baffert confirmed the World Cup on March 25 as Arrogate’s next target and, as far as bookmakers were concerned, that statement means the race is all but over.
The world champion’s price crashed from evens to 1-3, turning the second richest race in the world into an effective one-horse book.
At those odds he looks set to become the shortest-priced World Cup runner since Curlin, who won the race by seven and three-quarter lengths in 2008.
But this is in no way an overreaction from the layers as Arrogate is quite simply in a league of his own; a horse without a rival.
With California Chrome and Frosted hanging up their racing plates to start careers at stud, Baffert’s four-year-old has been left in a position of huge dominance in dirt racing.
His peak RPR from the Breeders’ Cup Classic is 136. His nearest rival on the ratings this year looks set to be star filly Songbird (124) and, even after adding in her 3lb fillies’ allowance, she would have to find 9lb to match Arrogate, which equates to more than four lengths on the track.
The 9lb margin over everything else on dirt gives Arrogate a level of superiority on a par with that enjoyed by other world superstars of recent years.
Dual world champion Frankel was 11lb better than anything else on the planet in 2012, while Black Caviar was 8lb better (after accounting for her mares’ allowance) than the second best sprinter in the world, Hay List, in 2011 and 2012.
Winx currently enjoys an even greater margin of superiority in Australia, sitting a massive 13lb ahead of any horse she ran against last year (allowing for her mares’ allowance), although if you include international horses within her division she has less in hand.
As it’s Cheltenham next week, I should also point out the horse with the biggest advantage in any race at the festival is Altior, who holds 15lb in hand of everything in the 2m novice chase division and looks a banker in the Racing Post Arkle, although he is also prohibitively priced at 1-3.
The common thread with all these dominant horses is that, once they showed how good they were, none of them were ever beaten again. Their class advantage was simply so great that it didn’t matter what the race-day variables threw up; their class always got them past the post in front.
Indeed, Frankel and Black Caviar were never beaten in their entire careers.
Arrogate has been beaten before, finishing third on his debut over 6f, but looking ahead he holds such a massive edge over every other dirt horse on the planet he looks unlikely to be beaten in 2017.
In January he turned the richest race in the world, the Pegasus World Cup, into little more than the richest racecourse gallop in the world, cantering to an effortless four-and-three-quarter-length success. There’s a good chance he will do the same in the second richest race in the world as well.
He holds 16lb in hand of the next horse in the Dubai World Cup on RPRs. That horse is Gun Runner, who finished 15 lengths behind Arrogate the last time they met. He has improved since that walloping, but we are still looking for a very wide-winning margin from the best horse in the world.
As for Super Saturday, in reality it was never going to throw up anything to affect Arrogate’s stranglehold on the Dubai World Cup market.
Round three of the Al Maktoum Challenge has a good record as a trial, turning up three of the last five winners, but Saturday’s race was a stinker.
Long River (112), a 25-1 shot, made all the running and held on up the straight to score by a length and a quarter from Special Fighter (110), who was making his seasonal debut.
None of the Al Maktoum Challenge runners would be good enough to go close in a typical Dubai World Cup and this race has a far-from-typical runner at the top of the market.
The best performance on Super Saturday came from Heavy Metal (119), who blitzed home from the front to score by an eased-down six and a half lengths in the Burj Nahaar over a mile on the dirt.
He has been in progressive form this year and looks an obvious candidate for the Godolphin Mile on World Cup night.
The best performances of the week came in Australia, where Le Romain and Chautauqua posted RPRs of 120 in the Canterbury BMW Stakes.
It paid to come up the stands’ rail at Randwick on Saturday and Chautauqua didn’t get across as quickly as the winner, third and fourth, being beaten a short-head in second.
He might have been denied the win, but given the way the track was playing this was a very solid effort and his turn shouldn’t be far away.