Racing

Arrogate draws pole position

Defending champion early 2-1 second-favourite for back-to-back Breeders' Cup Classic

Arrogate will break from the rail in a bid for a second straight Breeders' Cup Classic victory on Sunday morning (Singapore time) at Del Mar, where the draws for the flat racing extravaganza were made.

Trainer Bob Baffert admitted the No. 1 slot wouldn't have been his first choice, but jockey Mike Smith said Arrogate had broken on the rail in "probably two of his best races" in the 2016 Travers Stakes and the Pegasus in January.

"I learned a long time ago a real good horse makes a bad post a good one," said Smith.

"We'll see what happens."

The rider reckoned the draw dictates an aggressive start.

"I'll ride him hard, like I did in the Travers, and see where that puts me," said Smith, whose mount was installed as the early 2-1 second choice behind 9-5 Gun Runner in the US$6 million (S$8.2 million), 2,000m Classic.

Gun Runner will break from the fifth post under jockey Florent Geroux.

Gun Runner has won his last three starts, all Grade 1 stakes, for trainer Steve Asmussen.

His last defeat was a runner-up finish to Arrogate in a thrilling Dubai World Cup in March.

The Classic will cap a two-day, 13-race slate at Del Mar Racetrack, hosting the Breeders' Cup for the first time in the picturesque seaside town north of San Diego.

Nine prior Breeders' Cup race winners, including seven from last year at Santa Anita, are scheduled to run.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Highland Reel, comfortable winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Turf, will attempt to become only the third horse to win the 2,400m race twice.

He'll face a full field of 14 that includes last year's Juvenile Turf winner Oscar Performance and trainer Michael Stoute's Ulysses, the early 7-2 favourite.

Jockey Frankie Dettori will be aboard Ulysses, replacing Jim Crowly who guided the four-year-old to victory in the Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International.

O'Brien has a presence in the Classic as well, sending out dual 2000 Guineas winner Churchill and War Decree.

Churchill hasn't tasted victory since following up his Newmarket Classic win at the Curragh and finished third in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes to Persuasive at Ascot on Saturday after meeting trouble in running.

Godolphin Stables' four-time Group 1 winner Ribchester is the 7-2 early favourite in a full field of 14 for the Mile on turf.

Saturday's four races are headlined by the Distaff.

Stellar Wind drew the No. 2 post for the US$2 million, 1,800m Distaff and was installed as the 5-2 first choice over Elate (3-1) in an eight-horse field that also includes Champagne Room, winner of last year's Juvenile Fillies. - AFP

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