Defending champion Arrogate drew the rail post and 10 opponents, three from his own barn, in Saturday's $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar in Southern California.
Gun Runner, whose season began in triumph at Oaklawn Park, drew post five in a virtual showdown for Horse of the Year and the Eclipse Award as best older male.
Arrogate clinched the male 3-year-old championship by defeating favored California Chrome in last year's Classic at Santa Anita. He then defeated Chrome again in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park and rallied from last to down Gun Runner in the Dubai World Cup overseas.
Arrogate comes into the Classic, however, after back-to-back losses over the Del Mar surface, which is hosting horse racing's world championships for the first time. Gun Runner, meanwhile, has three straight Grade 1 victories (one at Churchill Downs, two at Saratoga) since finishing second to Arrogate.
Sired by unbeaten Candy Ride, Gun Runner won Oaklawn's Grade 3 Razorback Handicap in his February 4-year-old debut. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen seeks his second Classic victory 10 years after winning with Arkansas Derby winner and subsequent two-time Horse of the Year Curlin.
Although Arrogate is horse racing's career earnings leader, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is taking no chances in his bid for a fourth consecutive Classic victory. West Coast could become Baffert's fourth straight 3-year-old Classic winner, joining a group including Bayern and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Oaklawn-raced Collected, Arrogate's upsetter in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, and last-out Santa Anita stakes winner Mubtaahij also represent Baffert in the mile-and-quarter race, set for 7:35 p.m. Saturday on NBC (Resort Channel 4).
Also entered on Monday were War Decree, Win the Space, War Story, Churchill, Gunnevera and Pavel. Master European trainer Aidan O'Brien entered both Churchill and War Decree in search of his first Classic win.Sports on 10/31/2017
Print Headline: Arrogate meets Gun Runner as 11 vie in $6 million Classic