DEL MAR, Calif. — There’s a new king in horse racing and it’s Gun Runner.
The 4-year-old colt won the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by 2 1/4 lengths Saturday, sending rival Arrogate to a third straight career-ending defeat at Del Mar.
Gun Runner ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.29 and paid $6.80, $4.40 and $3.20.
Collected returned $5.60 and $4, while West Coast was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $3.60.
Arrogate finished in a dead-heat for fifth with Gunnevera, done in once again at the seaside track north of San Diego. It was the scene of two losses during the summer.
“He just doesn’t seem to get a hold of this racetrack, for whatever reason,” jockey Mike Smith said. “I hate to blame it on the track, but he’s shown it time and time again. I keep trying to talk myself into it, that he’s going to like it one day, but he just never did.”
Arrogate hasn’t been the same horse since his dominant wins in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup and the $10 million Dubai World Cup earlier this year that made him the sport’s richest thoroughbred with over $17 million in earnings.
The Dubai race was the last time Gun Runner lost. Since then, he’s emerged stronger than ever with four consecutive victories.
Arrogate was a slight 2-1 favorite over Gun Runner, with $1,420,233 bet on Arrogate to win – $132,416 more than on Gun Runner.
Bob Baffert saddled a record four horses in pursuit of a record fourth straight win in the Classic. He finished 2-3 with Collected and West Coast, and was left to puzzle over another disappointing showing by Arrogate. His other horse, Mubtaahij, was eighth.
Arrogate broke a step slow and banged his left side on the starting gate.
“At the break when he ducked in and he had to gather him up, you just can’t do that against these horses,” Baffert said. “But I notice when he goes around these turns he loses momentum. I can’t really totally blame it on the track. He’s so much better than that.”
War Story was fourth, followed by Arrogate and Gunnevera, Churchill, Mubtaahij, War Decree, Pavel and Win the Space.
In other races:
— Good Magic won the $2 million Juvenile by 4 1/4 lengths, making him the winter favorite for next year’s Kentucky Derby. Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Good Magic ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.34 and paid $25 to win at 11-1 odds. Trained by Brown, Good Magic earned his first win after finishing second in his first two career starts. Solomini, trained by Baffert, finished second. Bolt D’Oro, the 3-5 favorite, was third. Curlin, a former BC Classic winner, sired the winner and second place finisher.
— Trainer Peter Miller went 1-2 in the $1 million Turf Sprint with 30-1 shot Stormy Liberal winning by a head over 13-1 shot Richard’s Boy. Stormy Liberal paid $62.40 to win.
— Talismatic rallied in the stretch to win the $4 million Turf by a half-length at 14-1 odds. The Britain-bred colt ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:26.19 and paid $30.20 to win. Defending champion Highland Reel — the 7-5 favorite — was third.
— Smith scored an upset — his leading 26th Cup win — in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies with 17-1 shot Caledonia Road.
— World Approval became the second favorite to win on the weekend, taking the $2 million Mile by 1 1/4 lengths and giving jockey John Velazquez his second Cup win in two days.
— The weekend’s biggest upset was staged by 60-1 shot Bar of Gold in the $1 million Filly &Mare Sprint. Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Bar of Gold ran seven furlongs in 1:22.63 and paid $135.40 to win.
— Wuheida took the $2 million Filly &Mare Turf by a length and paid $24.40 at 11-1 odds.
— Roy H won the $1.5 million Sprint by a length under Kent Desormeaux, giving Miller his second victory on the weekend. The winner paid $11.80 at 9-2 odds.