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Former Arrogate jockey missed out on elite racehorse

As Arrogate, the world’s best racehorse, enters the starting gate for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on Saturday, jockey Rafael Bejarano will rue what might have been.

Bejarano was the regular rider on Arrogate until last year’s Travers at Saratoga. Bejarano also rode American Freedom, another nice 3-year-old for trainer Bob Baffert, who was sending Arrogate and American Freedom to the Travers.

Bejarano told the Daily Racing Form that the owners of American Freedom insisted he ride their colt. Thus, Baffert named Mike Smith to ride Arrogate, and the rest is history.

Arrogate has run three spectacular Beyer speed figures of 122, 120 and 119 in winning the Travers, Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup. Those lofty speed figures don’t come along often.

If Arrogate wins again in Dubai, he will make $6 million and boost his career earnings to more than $17 million in only eight career starts.

I consider this is a good sign for horse racing in the short term. If star 3-year-olds even try to emulate what Arrogate has done, at the least it will keep more good horses in training.

Who knows if Triple Crown winner American Pharoah might have raced as a 4-year-old if such a rich road of stakes were available to him.

With Arrogate as a likely 1-5 odds favorite in the Dubai World Cup, it should create juicy odds if you like any other horse.

I suspect Hoppertunity, Keen Ice and Mubtaahij have seen the rear end of Arrogate enough times to count the dapples.

A horse still improving is Gun Runner (8-1), who is owned by the Winchell Thoroughbreds of Las Vegas. His last two starts were easy wins in the Clark and Razorback Handicaps. He has a nice stalking style that could put him in position to take over at Dubai if for some reason Arrogate struggles.

DERBY PREPS

Three Kentucky Derby prep races are scheduled for this weekend. One of them, the UAE Derby in Dubai on Saturday, will be the first to offer 100 points to the winner.

In the UAE Derby, Thunder Snow (8-5) is a deserving chalk off two group wins. But don’t forget about Master Plan (6-1) from trainer Todd Pletcher or Japanese star Epicharis (5-1).

The Jack Cincinnati Casino Spiral at Turfway Park on Saturday looks like a “dart throw” race. It’s run over a synthetic surface, so I treat it more like a grass route.

Kitten’s Cat (4-1) is favored, but I suggest also using Colonel Samsen (12-1), King and His Court (5-1) and Soglio (6-1) in that order.

The Sunland Derby at Sunland Park on Sunday has been dominated by Southern California shippers. Bronze Age should be favored because of his trainer, Baffert.

The race is wide open. I suggest using Irap, Oxford Lane, Dilettante and Shareholder Value in that order.

HORSEPLAYER WORLD SERIES

The Horseplayer World Series at The Orleans is scheduled for Thursday to April 1. First prize could be worth as much as $400,000, depending on the number of entries.

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. You can buy his Santa Anita Park picks at racedaylasvegas.com. You can email him at rich_eng@hotmail.com and follow @richeng4propick on Twitter.

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