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  • Chris Costello

Arrogate dominates the first ever Pegasus at Gulfstream Park

On a beautiful, sunny, crisp day in Miami, Florida in January, I woke up and I walked out onto my balcony to stare at the ocean and realized I would get to see horse racing history made, no matter what, on Saturday, January 28th. I hoped as everyone else did to see California Chrome and Arrogate chase each other down the stretch after the final turn; but, sometimes what we hope for can't always become reality. The track midday at Gulfstream Park seemed pretty quiet. You could actually walk around and enjoy the many amenities; but, as the Pegasus post time approached, that all changed. It got really tense and a lot louder. The crowd at Gulfstream Park which earlier looked like a regular weekend crowd, now looked more like a Florida Derby crowd, even bigger. Between the track entrance and the paddock area California Chrome and Arrogate circled each other like two prize fighters, staring each other down before a championship fight. It was amazing to witness. As the horses made their way onto the track, my Dad and I joined the gate crew as they set the gate for the start. As much as I wanted to see a great race and history made, at the end of the day, I just wanted a safe trip for everyone. When that happens you are able to leave the track with a smile on your face. As the horses approached the gate, California Chrome hesitated a bit going in which he never does. I didn't think much of it at the time, but after the fact, the outcome of the race makes sense. California Chrome and Victor Espinoza already had a lot of work to do, starting from the twelfth position. I knew Victor wasn't going to ride him like he did in the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita when he lost to Arrogate. One thing I've learned is most jockeys bounce back after a bad ride. On Pegasus day I thought California Chrome broke well enough and that Victor put him in a decent position to go after Mike Smith on Arrogate when he took off during the final turn. But California Chrome didn't respond. As he faded to a ninth place finish, Arrogate and Mike Smith coasted to an easy victory, dominating the first ever "Pegasus." California Chrome retired and is now settling in at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky, ready for a successful stud career post racing. It was discovered after the race that he had some fluid in his right knee and was obviously sore. After returning to Kentucky, x-rays proved negative which is great news. All the best to him because he gave horse racing a real boost and we are thankful to him. There's a new "best horse" now and his name is "Arrogate." Seeing him race in 2017 should have the racing world very excited. Frank Stronach tried something very creative and bold on January 28th with the Pegasus. I don't know what will happen with this event in the future, but seeing horses continue to race for such a huge purse rather than retire to breed, was refreshing. Most horses have their three-year old campaigns and then that's it. Horses racing beyond that age like California Chrome, a star and the new star, Arrogate, are what the sport needs. California Chrome and American Pharoah have paved the way for horses like Arrogate and the amazing filly, Songbird to take that torch and continue in 2017 to be successful-what racing needs. In all, Miami in January was amazing. I hope to be back for many more at the Pegasus. Again, thank you California Chrome for great racing, and Arrogate...see you at the track, my friend.

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