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first word much too modest for that. “We’ve all got to get past Gun Runner and he’s a very good horse”, he said. And he wasn’t wrong about that. But Baffert did want to know why Winx didn’t run in “that Everest race”. I said I didn’t know because I’m not an Australian, but maybe she’s too much a middle-distance horse now to be sent back to sprinting. I should have said, “because the Cox Plate is more important”. But you always think of these things too late. Anyway he then went on to talk about Arrogate, about how he hadn’t realised what a hard race the American, and according to international handicappers, the world champion had been subjected to. Baffert talked about how he blamed himself for not being able to see it and about “getting caught up in all the hoopla”, running him before he was fully recovered and ready. Then he said: “He looks like the Arrogate we know and he’s training like the Arrogate we know, but you can’t tell if he’s lost a step or if there’s something psychological until he gets on the track”. Now we all know. There’s something psychological. Getting left lengths at the start then coming through that kick-back to run down Gun Runner in Dubai probably didn’t damage him much physically, but it left him with

Why are Dirt horses rated so highly when most of the world’s best thoroughbreds run on Turf and most Dirt horses never go near it?

Arrogate is still rated the top horse in the world by Longines; it has asked questions

LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (Nov 5) Rating Distance Surface 134 132 130 129 128 127 125 125 124 124

I M I I L I L S I M

D T T D T T T T D T

Horse

Arrogate (USA) Winx (AUS) Cracksman (GB) Gun Runner (USA) Enable (GB) Ulysses (IRE) Cloth of Stars (IRE) Harry Angel (IRE) Collected (USA) Ribchester (IRE)

the thought in his horsey head: “Blow this for a game of soldiers”, and once that’s there maybe not even a trainer as brilliant as Bob Baffert can get it out. Also he (Arrogate) doesn’t much like Del Mar. All of which begs another question, but not one for Baffert. There are only four Dirt horses in the world top 20 as proposed post-Breeders’ Cup by Longines. But why are there as many as four? You can see why Arrogate remains top (although not why they put him top in the first place) because that was a hell of performance and not one to be considered not to have happened just because he failed to replicate it. The others are Gun Runner, Collected and West Coast, and once the handicappers had committed themselves by putting Arrogate top, none of those could be excluded.

T

he big question that needs asking, and really can’t be asked often enough, is: “Why are Dirt horses rated so highly when most of the world’s best thoroughbreds run on Turf and most Dirt horses never go near it?” Is there anyone out there who really thinks that an American Dirt horse could have won the Arc or the British Champion Stakes or the Cox Plate (although because of the likely going and the configuration of the course, they might have a slightly better chance in that third one)? Why not have two top racehorses lists: one for the majority, which is to say Turf horses, the other for Dirt? Dear handicappers, why make crosses for your own back when there is no point of reference whatsoever between the two categories? Dirt racing and Turf racing are completely different disciplines. One requires the sustained speed, the other the burst of acceleration. They’re almost as different as Flat racing and jumps racing. Where’s the sense in trying to compare apples with oranges. The handicappers should stop trying to defy logic by guessing when there is no evidence, and guessing – so often it seems – in favour of American Dirt.

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Stallion Review 2017, including Frankel, Mickley Stud, a wealth of stallion statistics and an interview with Elite Racing Club, owner-breede...

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