DEL MAR, Calif,--Del Mar Race Track sadly was the winner in the Breeder's Cup, Nov. 3-4, with its track beating the favorites in almost every race on the card.
The biggest loser was Arrogate, a great race horse who simply couldn't handle the track at Del Mar.
Arrogate was slightly favored over eventual winner Gun Runner in the $6 Million Classic.
The experts on the television coverage of the Breeder's Cup said over and over again that Arrogate wasn't the same after Dubai, but he didn't have a chance to show his true ability after Dubai, as his final three races were all at Del Mar, a track, as his jockey Mike Smith said after the race, he simply couldn't handle.
"Del Mar was clearly not a level playing field," said Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard. "It was a shame that Arrogate went out the way he did. I blame it on the track. It's surface is not what all horses like. Only two favorites in 13 races won."
"It's a shame, with so much money and so many championships on the line," said Sheppard.
"The track at Del Mar changed form," said renowned bloodstock agent Russell Jones. "Some horses relished it, and others hated it."
Being a seaside track, the going is very different from all the other tracks in the country that are inland tracks.
Golfers know the huge difference between the land at a links course by the sea and the land at inland courses.
SOME EXPERTS feel that big horses with big feet can't get a hold of the track while little horses with little feet just skip over the surface.
Not only is the going different at Del Mar, it's also a track with tighter turns than most and a very short stretch that penalizes late finishers,
Pa-bred Unique Bella was a beaten favorite in the $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint, finishing sixth behind Bar of Gold, a 66-1 shot.
A filly and a colt by Union Rags were entered and, although neither was favored, one, Paradise Woods, finished third, but the other, Free Drop Billy, finished ninth in a performance very unlike his previous races.
"Free Drop Billy had no chance," said Jones. "I talked to his breeder, Mrs. Groves, and she said he would never run like that at any other track."
"Look at Bolt d'Oro in that race," said Jones. "He has been dominant all year long, and he couldn't get it done."
Bolt d'Oro was the beaten favorite in the $2 Million Juvenile at 3-5 but finished third behind long shots Good Magic and Solomini.
Free Drop Billy was named after his owner, who is an avid golfer who so often has his ball land in a place with an unmovable obstruction that he gets a lot of 'free drops."
Paradise Woods was third in the $2 Million Distaff behind Forever Unbridled and Abel Tasman, with the favorite Elate fourth.
"Paradise Woods ran her heart out," said Jones of the 3-year-old filly. "It's really hard for a 3-year-old to run against those really good older mares. Her performance was pretty good."
Other beaten favorites included Lady Aurelia in the Turf Sprint, beaten by Stormy Liberal, Lady Eli, seventh behind Wuheida in the $2 Million Filly and Mare Turf, and Moonshine Memories beaten in the Juvenile Fillies by 14-1 shot Caledonia Road.
In the $4 Million Turf, Talismanic won with the 7-5 favorite Highland Reel third, in the Dirt Mile, 14-1 longshot Battle of Midway won with the Pa-bred favorite Mor Spirit eighth, in the $1 Million Turf Sprint, Stormy Liberal won with favorite Lady Aurelia 10th, and in the $1.5 Million Sprint, Roy H was the winner with favorite Defong sixth.
In the 1 Million Juvenile Turf, Mendelssohn, the luke warm favorite, did beat the Del Mar odds and won, as did World Approval in the $2 Million Mile.