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Arrogate receives star treatment in welcome home to Santa Anita

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Trainer Bob Baffert welcomes Arrogate, the world’s No. 1 racehorse, back to his Santa Anita barn.

It’s 45 minutes before Arrogate, the world’s No. 1 racehorse, arrives from LAX and returns to the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert at Santa Anita Park following his victory in last week’s $10-million Dubai World Cup.

Baffert, dressed in a blue vest, white long-sleeve shirt, jeans and brown boots, is sitting comfortably on a chair soaking up the sunshine as photographers and fans gather outside his barn. He’s been here before.

Only two years ago, Baffert trained American Pharoah, the Triple Crown winner.

“This horse didn’t get to go through all the Triple Crown stuff, so he doesn’t have the public awareness,” Baffert said. “He did something incredible that’s really put him in the spotlight with a horse like American Pharoah. Now I think he’s in the same league as American Pharoah.”

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Santa Anita made signs welcoming Arrogate: “North America’s richest race horse” and “World’s greatest race horse.”

Arrogate was led off the van and acted as if he was ready to race again right then.

“He’s full of himself,” Baffert said.

Only after Baffert told his assistants to put earplugs on did Arrogate suddenly settle down and become friendly. Baffert’s wife, Jill, fed him some carrots and Baffert walked over to pet the horse’s face.

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Arrogate has won seven of his eight races, worth $17,084,600. His win in Dubai was even more impressive because he broke last and overcome early trouble to win going away.

“I think he won a lot of hearts in the gallant way that he won that race and still did it with something left in the tank was pretty incredible,” Baffert said. “I think all of racing is attached to this horse. We’re always looking for who’s going to be the next Secretariat, Seattle Slew. And to have a horse that can be mentioned in the same caliber is pretty remarkable.”

Arrogate got the royal treatment in Dubai.

“He was in this huge stall with air conditioning,” Baffert said. “He was in a five-star hotel.”

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There’s no air conditioning in his stall at Santa Anita, but it’s the same one occupied previously by American Pharoah and has a fan to cool him off.

Baffert said Arrogate will get several weeks off before preparing for a schedule that is pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 4 at Del Mar.

Always Dreaming wins Florida Derby

Always Dreaming, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velasquez, pulled an upset to win the Florida Derby. He beat favored Gunnevara, who performed well to finish third after breaking last. The start at Gulfstream is always critical with the short run to the first turn. Always Dreaming paid $7.40 to win. State of Honor, for Dale Romans, was second.

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Under a patient ride by Brian Hernandez, Jr., Girvin, the favorite, won the Louisiana Derby by 1 1/4 lengths. This puts the 3-year-old colt also in the midst of the Kentucky Derby picture. Girvin paid $4.60 to win. Patch was second and Local Hero third. Joe Sharp is the trainer.

At Santa Anita, Collected gave Bob Baffert a bit of satisfaction by winning the Santana Mile. He beat the favorite Dortmund, who was switched from Baffert’s barn to Art Sherman’s. Dortmund, once one of the best horses in the country, finished a disappointing fourth.


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