Speedway Stable’s Collected, the “other” Bob Baffert trainee in Saturday’s $1 million Pacific Classic Stakes (GI) thanks to the presence of division leader Arrogate, posted his first career Grade 1 win in impressive fashion, going gate to wire in the 1 ¼-mile summer feature and winning by a half-length under regular jockey Martin Garcia over his highly regarded stablemate.
In doing so, Collected guaranteed himself a spot in the starting gate for the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) as the Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” event for the $6 million race.
A confirmed early runner, Collected sped right to the front after a clean break from post two and was happy to set all of the early pace through splits of :23.76, :47.19 and 1:11 through three-quarters of a mile, with both Accelerate on the inside and Arrogate on the outside hot on his heels. And as he rounded the far bend, Collected achieved a clear lead in time to post a mile in 1:35.27.
Shortly before passing the eighth pole, Arrogate was rallying furiously out toward the center of the track and threatening to get up in time, but, after digging in for all he had left down the lane, Collected held on desperately to the win, stopping the clock in 2:00.70 over the fast Del Mar main track.
San Diego Handicap (GII) winner Accelerate held on to third and was followed under the wire by Curlin Road, Hard Aces, Royal Albert Hall and Donworth.
“I liked where I was all the way around there,” Garcia said of his second Pacific Classic winner (his first also coming with a Baffert trainee in Game On Dude in 2013). “I could tell how fast we were going and my horse was relaxed. He felt so good all the way around; when I asked him at the top of the stretch, he was running 100 percent worth. I hit him a few times, but he was giving me his all.
“I could feel [Arrogate] coming; it was like a big animal creeping up behind me,” Garcia added.
At odds of 3-1, Collected paid $8, $2.80 and $2.20, while Arrogate was worth $2.60 and $2.10. The $1 exacta returned $9.60 and the $.50 trifecta with Accelerate in third was good for $10.75.
Curlin Road, Hard Aces, Royal Albert Hall and Donworth completed the order of finish after Sorry Erik scratched.
Speedway Stable purchased Collected for $170,000 as an Ocala Breeders’ Sales March 2-year-old in training in 2015 on the advice of bloodstock advisers John Adger and Marette Farrell. Speedway is the racing operation of Peter and Ann Fluor and K.C. Weiner. Collected was previously sold for $150,000 as a Keeneland September yearling six months before.
“We bought him specifically to go to Bob,” Peter Fluor said of his first Grade 1 winner. “We bought him in training and gave him 30 days off at Camp Speedway and sent him right to [Baffert].
“Obviously this is a big thrill. Arrogate is a legend and I’m a great fan. I guess you’d say I’m a bit humbled by all of this, but very proud to beat Arrogate. When I have a cocktail tonight I’ll say Collected is a special horse, too.”
Collected is a 4-year-old son of City Zip and the Johannesburg mare Helena Bay and was bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm and Peter J. Callahan. He added the Pacific Classic to a record that includes wins in the Precisionist Stakes (GIII) last out and last year’s Lexington Stakes (GIII), Sham Stakes (GIII) and Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes. Overall his career line now stands at 11-8-1-0, $1,260,500.
Baffert didn’t say where his top two would turn up next, but while Collected will be considered for the Awesome Again Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita on Sept. 30, the earliest anyone will see Arrogate race again will be the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“I kind of feel like the big brother beat the little brother,” Baffert said of his fifth Pacific Classic victory. “With Collected, speed is his weapon and he used it today. Arrogate, at least he tried today. He’s getting there, but I think that when I ran him in the San Diego I messed up his psyche a little bit. I don’t think I’ll have a problem bringing him back in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but he’s got to be fresh, just like Collected came in here fresh. And Collected is a very good horse.”
Jockey Mike Smith also had no answers for the strange form reversal for North America’s richest racehorse of all time, but noted the improvement from his fourth-place finish in the San Diego last out.
“Better than the last one, but it’s not good enough,” Smith said. “He’s not running his ‘’A’ race. I’m not even sure he’s running his ‘B’ race, to be honest with you, and he’s still only getting beat a little bit. If he improves just a little bit we’ll be all right.”