As the NFL celebrates its 100 anniversary, the league welcomes the Kansas City Chiefs back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. The Chiefs, 1.5-point favorites in Super Bowl 54, won Super Bowl 4 23-7 over the Minnesota Vikings as 12-point underdogs. Their opponents, the San Francisco 49ers have won five of six Super Bowl appearances but none since a 1995 victory in Super Bowl 29.
Arrogate Heavy Favorite For San Diego Handicap
A Perfect Stalking Style
Since running third in his career debut back in April of 2016, Arrogate (1-5 in the morning line odds) has been unbeatable. He comes into the San Diego Handicap with a seven-race win streak, the last four of those in Grade 1 stakes events.
The last three of those - the 2016 Breeders' Cup Classic, the 2017 Pegasus World Cup, and the 2017 Dubai World Cup - just happen to be the three largest purses for thoroughbred racing in the world, and in winning those he has pushed his career earnings to a record $17 million.
A four-year-old Kentucky bred by multiple-graded stakes winner Unbridled's Song, Arrogate typically employs a perfect stalking style, using his natural early speed to sit just off the pace setters, before swallowing them up as the field turns for home and accelerating away down the stretch.
Under regular rider Mike Smith, you can expect him to run that exact kind of race here as well. Trainer Baffert has also entered Cat Burglar (10-1 ) in the race, and he'll likely be asked to go to the lead and set an honest pace for Arrogate to run at, and then get out of the way of his more highly regarded stablemate.
A Little Hope For The Rest of The Field
Given the level of competiton he has previously beaten, it's difficult to see Arrogate faltering here. He will be carrying high-weight of 126 pounds, giving up up 11 pounds to a couple of the others, but he has won at longer distances under the same weights, so even that is of little hope for the rest of the field. Unless something catastrophic happens, expect him to win this going away.
That leaves all of the rest running for second place. Among the field, only Accelerate at 8-1 is under double digits in the ML odds. Also a four-year-old Kentucky bred, he's trained by California-based John Sadler and ridden by Victor Espinoza, the jockey for American Pharoah when that one captured the 2015 Triple Crown.
Acccelerate has been competitive at the graded-stakes level, with a Grade 2 win on his resume last year, when he also ran third in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. He's only finished out of the money once in his 11-race career, but he's been light on wins, having run second/third in his last five tries.
Along with Cat Burglar, it's likely that El Huerfano (12-1) will be the other runner that goes straight to the front and tries to hang on as long as he can. A veteran California-bred making his 28th career start, he's never been better than fourth at the graded-stakes level. He's taking a big step up in class, and a minor reward is probably the best that can be expected of him.
Another with graded-stakes experience but no graded-stakes wins is the Doug O'Neill-trained Donworth (10-1). A well-bred colt sired by Hall of Famer Tiznow, he'll be making just his second start of 2017, last out running fourth in the (G3) Precisionist Stakes at Santa Anita.
He showed good early speed in that event and was just edged out late for third at the same 1 1/16 mile distance he'll be going on Saturday. With that tune-up under his saddle, he could be expected to move up under jockey Mario Guiterrez.
Rounding out the field, Florida-bred Dalmore (20-1) will break from the outside gate under jockey Kent Desormeaux and his trainer brother Keith. A four-year-old gelding, he did win the (G3) Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita last year, but he has been winless in seven starts since then, finishing out of the money in his last three.
Given the makeup of the field, the best betting play might be simply to use Arrogate as a single key in multi-race wagers, and on top in trifectas and superfectas. The San Diego Handicap goes Saturday July 22 from Del Mar Race Track. Post time is 6:10 PM Pacific and you can bet the day of the race through Today's Tracks at Bovada, or one of out other top-rated online racebooks.
San Diego Handicap Entries w/ ML Odds
- Accelerate (8-1)
- El Huerfano (12-1)
- Arrogate (1-5)
- Donworth (10-1)
- Cat Burglar (10-1)
- Dalmore (20-1)
- 1st - Arrogate
- 2nd - Accelerate
- 3rd - Donworth
- 4th - El Huerfano
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