Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup
By Ed Golden, Santa Anita Publicity
Less than a month into 2017, the Race of the Year is here. It unfolds Saturday at Gulfstream Park where Horse of the World Arrogate meets Horse of the Year California Chrome in the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at 1 1/8 miles.
Opinions on which of the two Southern California-based champions–Arrogate, 2016 Male Three-Year-Old Eclipse Award winner–and California Chrome, 2016 Horse of the Year and Older Dirt Male, varied in a random sampling of Santa Anita-based trainers, as noted:
Richard Baltas: Chrome. He’s been training at Gulfstream; Arrogate has not.
Alexis Barba: I’ve got to go with Chrome. I loved Arrogate as a three-year-old, but I’ve got to go with ‘the man.’
Rafael Beccera: California Chrome 100 percent.
David Bernstein: Arrogate might be the best horse but Chrome might have a tactical advantage because he’s been training there and it’s a mile and an eighth.
Simon Callaghan: It’s a coin flip, I think.
Jack Carava: I like Arrogate based on the post positions, but on training, both are prepared to give it their best shots.
James Cassidy: Arrogate. The 12 hole is a big problem (for Chrome). It’s a short run to the first turn, and it’s not like there’s a bum in the one hole.
Ben Cecil: I’d like to see Chrome win but I’m probably leaning towards Arrogate.
Vladimir Cerin: I just hope it’s a good race.
Phil D’Amato: I give Chrome the edge. At Los Al (Winter Challenge) he was eight wide (actually six), so I don’t think the post matters.
Neil Drysdale: I like ’em both. I’ll take either one of them.
Ron Ellis: Chrome, because Arrogate hasn’t been able to maintain a normal training schedule.
Peter Eurton: Chrome with the outside draw.
Neil French: I’m leaning slightly towards Arrogate.
Paddy Gallagher: I just want to see a great race.
Mark Glatt: Arrogate.
Jorge Gutierrez: I think Arrogate is the best horse in the country but California Chrome is the best horse of a lifetime.
Bruce Headley: Chrome. Years ago Art Sherman galloped the best horse (Swaps) and now he trains the best horse.
Dan Hendricks: Chrome, just off the pace with a stalking trip and then blow by them.
Eric Kruljac: If I had to bet my life it would be Arrogate, but I’m 100 percent behind Chrome emotionally.
Ian Kruljac: At a mile and an eighth, Chrome.
Jerry Hollendorfer: Both are California guys; I’d like to see one of those win it, so whichever one wins is fine with me. I think they have to beat Chrome, even though Arrogate beat him before (by a half length in the Breeders’ Cup Classic). I think people are trying to say Arrogate’s not ready, but Bob (Baffert) wouldn’t take him back there if he wasn’t.
Marty Jones: Chrome. Going with the Cal-bred.
Steve Knapp: Arrogate. He’s got a better post.
Brian Koriner: Chrome is too tough.
Craig Lewis: It’s a coin flip.
Mike Machowsky: I’d like to have either one.
Ron McAnally: Arrogate. If I said Chrome, Baffert would choke me.
Mike McCarthy: It looks like a great race. I just don’t know who, though.
Sean McCarthy: Arrogate, but I’d like Chrome to win it.
Gary Mandella: The post positions aren’t good for either horse, but I’d say Chrome.
Richard Mandella: They’re both very good. I couldn’t pick between ’em.
Alfredo Marquez: I love Chrome. He’s been at Gulfstream and had works on the track.
Steve Miyadi: I just hope it’s a great race.
Hector Palma: California Chrome. The distance is shorter and it’s better for him.
George Papaprodromou: Arrogate. I think he’s the better horse.
Jorge Periban: Chrome.
Dean Pederson: I give Chrome a slight edge. He didn’t have to train through adverse conditions. Face it: this is Chrome’s all-in race. Arrogate has the whole year ahead of him, but never underestimate Baffert.
Marcelo Polanco: Chrome is the better horse. He’s been there and he’s acclimated.
John Sadler: It’s pretty close. Maybe Chrome goes out on top.
Gary Sherlock: I think the distance favors Chrome. I don’t think he’d beat Arrogate going a mile and a quarter.
John Shirreffs: I’m a Chrome fan.
Cliff Sise Jr.: It’s 50-50. It should be a good race right down to the wire.
Gary Stute: A mile and an eighth suits Chrome better. Arrogate’s better at a mile and a quarter.
Eddie Truman: Chrome at a mile and an eighth. If it was a mile and a quarter, I’d go with Arrogate. Chrome will be rolling this time, not sitting there waiting, but Arrogate’s just been spectacular, the way he’s looking.
Kathy Walsh: I’m pulling for Chrome. It should be a fabulous race. Arthur did a helluva job giving the horse to the world.
Howard Zucker: I love Chrome. I think the distance favors him.
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