Bob Baffert hailed Arrogate as “incredible” after he was crowned the Longines World’s Best Racehorse for the second successive year.
Baffert’s charge was given a rating of 134 following his three-year-old season in 2016 and was allotted the same mark for his 2017 campaign, which included victories in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park and the Dubai World Cup at Meydan.
However, he did not win again following that victory in March and Baffert felt Arrogate paid the price for some hard races.
He said: “As my boys would say, it was sick what he did (Dubai World Cup). Watching the replay today got me a little emotional. He showed so much heart and determination to win.
“His Travers was off the chart, his Breeders’ Cup was off the chart, his Pegasus was off the chart. The sheet guys said he can’t do that again, but he was just an incredible racehorse.
“For Mike Smith to say he was the best horse he has been on is quite a statement, as he has been on some good ones.
“He was never the same after that. He was healthy and all, but he just said that was it. I ran him that first time and he wasn’t quite ready. He just ran a poor race.
“To me he looked good in the mornings, he just didn’t want to perform. After that first race back, we were thinking of retiring the horse as that was such an awful performance.
“We gave him another shot and he was second to Collected, who is a good horse. It really hurt to see him not come back to that, though, and he never came close to it.
“Dirt racing is very demanding and to do what he did in the Breeders’ Cup and Pegasus – the Dubai World Cup was like his drop the mic race and that was it.”
Star Australian mare Winx, who is on a 22-race winning streak for Chris Waller, was ranked second on 132, while Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Gun Runner was joint-third on 130 with John Gosden’s Champion Stakes hero Cracksman.
Stablemate and five-time Group one winner Enable was ranked 2lb lower on 128 and while the decision raised some discussion, Gosden was not at all downhearted.
He said: “To paraphrase Mark Twain, horse races are purely a matter of opinion.
“I think what Arrogate did in the Dubai World Cup was beyond wonder. I think it was the most exciting and extraordinary race of the year. I stood there and couldn’t believe what he did.
“I am thrilled to be here today with Cracksman winning the best race. I think we’ve had a couple of winners, so I am pretty happy.”
Cracksman and Enable are ultimately expected to clash in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in the autumn and while it has been suggested the first-named may head to the Dubai Sheema Classic, Gosden was non-committal on such a target.
He added: “It’s early days, one is doing a canter and one is trotting. To cut a long story short, if they are happy, healthy and well, then they will meet at Longchamp. If they meet along the way, they meet along the way, but that would be the plan for those two.
“Cracksman well tell us when he is ready to start and the way he behaved this morning, I think I might run him at Newcastle!
“All options are open. I think we are very clear, Mr (Anthony) Oppenheimer and I, about running in the King George as it is a race his family had sponsored for years and we want to run in the Arc.
“You look at the King George and Arc. Anything before that or after is not as important as those two races.
“I think with Enable we very much see the Arc as the key race and the Juddmonte beforehand.”
Gun Runner is set to sign off his career in Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.
Case Clay, representing part-owner Three Chimneys Farm, said: “He is a very consistent horse and doesn’t turn a hair. Although he was successful at two and won a Grade One at three, he just continued to improve.
“You hope he will take the world of beating in the Pegasus, but it is such a tough race and there are a lot of good horses in the race.”
Clive Cox’s July Cup Harry Angel (125), Prix de l’Abbaye winner Battaash (123) and King Stand Stakes winner Lady Aurelia (122) ensured a good showing for the sprint division, while Aidan O’Brien’s Classic-winning pair of Churchill (123) and Winter (119) also featured among the leading lights.