In one of the most contentious decisions in modern horse racing history, the title of LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse went to American champion Arrogate for the second year running.
Australian mare Winx finished second in the rankings in front of Cracksman and Gun Runner, but many fans and critics were wondering how three-time Cox Plate winner Winx missed out on top honours again.
The World’s Best Racehorse title is completely misleading and the prize is given to the thoroughbred with the best individual performance throughout the year.
Despite Arrogate going completely off the boil at his last three starts, which saw the expensive colt finish a combined margin of 22 lengths behind the winners, his win in the Dubai World Cup was deemed the single-best performance on the track.
British Horseracing Authority head of handicapping Phil Smith, speaking as co-chairman for the Longines Best Racehorse rankings committee, explained the ruling to Bloodhorse.com.
“Our job is to look at the best sustainable performance over the whole year. We ask if the form of a race can be supported and substantiated by the prior and subsequent performances of the winner and/or placed horses,” Smith said.
“With Arrogate, his Pegasus World Cup win nearly replicates his Dubai World Cup performance. The form of the placed horses in both races is also rock-solid. Arrogate totally lost the plot after Dubai and didn’t replicate the form, but the placed horses did.
“Arrogate absolutely wouldn’t win if he now had to concede four pounds to Gun Runner, but what we’ve produced isn’t a handicap.
“If Arrogate was still in training, he would clearly be rated lower, but that doesn’t denigrate his performance in Dubai, which was stunning. What we are talking about here is a classification of performances from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.”
That’s little consolation for the connections of Winx and there are many disgruntled fans calling for a change in format. The World’s Best Racehorse doesn’t accurately award the best thoroughbred in the world, so it’s a completely misleading title.
The win by Arrogate was the third consecutive win for trainer Bob Baffert, who scored the prize in 2015 with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah – a more deserving winner in our opinion.
Despite the public criticism of Arrogate’s win, Baffert believes his win at Meydan the best he’s ever seen.
“I don’t think I’ll ever witness a race like it again,” Baffert said. “Watching the replay got me a little emotional—he just showed so much heart and determination to win.
It was off the chart. That was the single best performance I have ever seen. That was incredible.”
The lack of exposure on the international stage might have been the downfall for Winx. The Chris Waller-trained mare continues to score easily in one of the best weight-for-age races in the world, but the Cox Plate doesn’t hold the same international recognition as races such as the Dubai World Cup.
There was also an outcry for fans of Enable, which was able to win six major races in 2017.
The John Gosden-trained champion was a winner of the Prix de I’arc de Triomphe, Irish Oaks, Epsom Oaks and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Those wins combined are clearly good enough to see her be awarded the World’s Best Racehorse, but she finished fifth in the rankings.
Adding to the frustration for connections of Enable, the Prix de I’arc de Triomphe was awarded the World’s Best Horse Race.
More shockingly was that Enable finished only two points ahead of Ulysses, a winner of only three major races in 2017.
His win in the Eclipse Stakes was impressive, but the race is worth only £500,000 and isn’t considered one of the big races in the world.
2017 World’s Best Racehorse top 10 rankings
1st – Arrogate (134)
2nd – Winx (132)
3rd – Cracksman, Gun Runner (130)
5th – Enable (128)
6th – Ulysses (126)
7th – Cloth of Stars, Harry Angel (125)
9th – Collected, Kitasan Black, Ribchester (124)
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