The two heavyweights will have to take roundabout paths from opposite ends of the starting gate to lock up in the world's richest horse race.
California Chrome, the two-time horse of the year, was installed Monday as the morning-line favorite at 6-5 despite drawing the outside post in the 12-horse field for Saturday's inaugural $12-million Pegasus World Cup Invitational.
Younger rival Arrogate, who dealt California Chrome his only defeat in 2016 by half a length in the Breeders' Cup, also received a tough assignment on the inside post. Arrogate is the next pick at 7-5 in what is expected to be a two-horse duel over 1 1/8 miles on the dirt at Gulfstream Park.
Keen Ice, who finished third in the Breeders' Cup in November, will start from the ninth spot. He is rated third at 12-1.
The rematch between California Chrome and the Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate has sparked interest in an event that already had plenty of luster because of the uniqueness of the 12 entrants putting up $1 million apiece to buy a spot in the field.
The winner will collect $7 million.
"We'll both have to be a jockey's race, I think," said Art Sherman, the 79-year-old trainer of California Chrome. "They're going to be heads up coming away from there and hopefully get a clean break and we'll see what happens.
"The only good thing I thought about this is he won't have to be in the starting gate for long. You can't make any excuses. Chrome is Chrome. He's got tactical speed. I was hoping that we might get closer inside. But he's going to overcome all of this."
California Chrome will need to use his speed for a quick break in the short dash to the first turn to avoid getting parked. Odds are stacked against horses starting from the outside in a large field.
Notably, Big Brown won the 2008 Florida Derby from the 12 post at Gulfstream, then went on to win the Kentucky Derby from the No. 20 post, only the second horse in 52 years to win it from outside the 16th starting spot.
Arrogate, who won the Eclipse Award as the outstanding 3-year-old in 2016, will have a shorter route to the turn but will have to guard against being cut off by others with early speed.
"If the horse is good enough, he's going to perform," Sherman said, adding about California Chrome, "He's good enough, believe me when I tell you, he's a once-of-a-lifetime horse. He's the real McCoy."
This will be the final race for California Chrome, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2014. Despite the loss to Arrogate, he received his second Eclipse Award as horse of the year on Saturday on the strength of winning his other six starts, all stakes, including the $10-million Dubai World Cup.
The Pegasus Cup is the brainchild of Gulfstream owner Frank Stronach, who spent $30 million to erect the 110-foot bronze statue of the mythical horse Pegasus slaying a dragon in the parking lot outside the race track.
Stronach has entered Shaman Ghost, a 5-year-old who won the 2016 Woodward Stakes. When positions were determined Monday, Shaman Ghost was the second-to-last entry to pull a spot, at No. 7. That left California Chrome alone on the outside at 12.
California Chrome will have one notable advantage on his chief adversary, having arrived two weeks early, while Arrogate remained in California where his training has been hampered by rain.
"What a big move that was for me. They're just getting flooded," Sherman said. "I know how Bob Baffert must feel when he couldn't get to work his horse."
California Chrome was impressive in his final timed workout Saturday at Gulfstream. The 6-year-old galloped six furlongs in 1:12.41.
Arrogate held his final workout the same day at Santa Anita, breezing six furlongs alongside stablemate Uninvited. Arrogate was scheduled to ship to South Florida on Tuesday.
After the workout, Baffert told reporters in California, "He is so fit, he's ready for the challenge. We just need to ship there and get some racing luck."
Every other horse in the Pegasus field has double-digit odds, which reflects the consensus thinking that the Pegasus is a two-horse race.
The Pegasus will be the final race on a 12-race program and will be televised on NBC.
Pegasus post positions
Here are the post positions with morning-line odds (and jockeys in parentheses):
1. Arrogate (Mike Smith), 7-5
2. Prayer for Relief (Florent Geroux), 50-1
3. Neolithic (John Velazquez), 30-1
4. Noble Bird (Julien Leparoux), 25-1
5. War Story (Antonio Gallardo), 50-1
6. War Envoy (Luis Saez), 50-1
7. Shaman Ghost (Jose Oritz), 20-1
8. Semper Fortis (Tyler Gaffalione), 50-1
9. Keen Ice (Javier Castellano), 12-1
10. Breaking Lucky (Luis Contreras), 25-1
11. Eragon (Edgar Prado), 50-1
12. California Chrome (Victor Espinoza), 6-5