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1993 Breeders’ Cup Classic Flashback: Who Bet On Arcangues?

1993 Breeders’ Cup Classic Flashback: Who Bet On Arcangues? by Reinier Macatangay- Common belief states horses cannot close on Santa Anita’s dirt surface. Speed horses go to the front and just stick around like glue, while closers are left helpless to the dynamics of the biased California surface. Although Santa Anita changed their dirt surface a few times, the belief has always held among handicappers.

Arcangues Breeders' Cup

Hitting big with a 133-1 shot is the type of score that can change a bettor’s life. The tote board read 99-1, but tote boards can only go to 99-1, so Arcangues was 133-1 even with the well-known Jerry Bailey on him.
Photo: Breeders’ Cup

Well, in 1993 on the old dirt surface, one closer proved this logic wrong in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI). The race, worth $3 million back then, was won by the European invader Arcangues, a 5-year-old horse based in France and trained by André Fabre (former trainer of Flintshire). Jerry Bailey, who had never been aboard Arcangues, piloted him to victory.

Oh, and also, bettors sent Arcangues off at 133-1.

Yes, 133-1.

Hitting big with a 133-1 shot is the type of score that can change a bettor’s life. The tote board read 99-1, but tote boards can only go to 99-1, so Arcangues was 133-1 even with the well-known Jerry Bailey on him.

Here is a recap of how the race unfolded.

The favorite Bertrando broke sharp under Gary Stevens, and went to the front rather quickly. Think of him as the 1993 version of Bayern, without the unfortunate incident of interfering with the competition at the start.

Marquetry, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, also preferred to be on the lead, but Marquetry let Bertrando hold a small advantage after the first turn. The half went in 46 4/5 seconds, which is a decent clip for 1 1/4 miles.

Besides Arcangues, behind the pair were names such as Diazo, the California legend Best Pal, Miner’s Mark, Devil His Due, Belmont Stakes champion Colonial Affair, Kissin Kris, Missionary Ridge and Wallenda.

On the far turn, Bertrando still held breathing room between him and Marquetry, while Diazo seemed to be spinning his wheels. Devil His Due mounted a mid-race move, but failed to sustain it. Best Pal went backwards as well, losing a position at each call. Meanwhile, Arcangues gradually improved his position on the inside.
Bertrando received the kind of trip Game On Dude always wished for in his multiple Breeders’ Cup attempts. He had the race almost locked up at the top of the stretch, with challengers surrendering one by one.

The lone exception remained Arcangues.

“Every eighth of a mile … I got a better feeling from the horse,” Bailey told Stevens for an old TVG interview.

Bailey gave Arcangues a clever ride up until this point, saving ground on both turns and just letting the horse be himself, without imposing his will on the animal.

To reward his patient jockey, Arcangues willingly moved towards the free-running leader by avoiding a fading horse on the rail, rallying in between horses at the top of the stretch and taking dead aim on Bertrando.

Bettors who singled Bertrando on their Pick 7 tickets were suddenly scared.

Stevens continued to ride Bertrando vigorously, but the speedy horse already gave him everything in reserve. Arcangues took a few right-handed swings from Bailey and responded, eventually passing the favorite.

“Before you know it, I’m turning for home … and he just took me by (Bertrando) like it was nothing,” Bailey recalled.

After the race, Bailey admitted to NBC’s Bob Neumeier he knew nothing about the horse.

“I didn’t even know how to pronounce his name.”

“Sometimes horses are ridden best by the first-time riders that don’t know anything about them, so they don’t try to enforce their will upon their horse.”

Bailey’s theory turned out true, and the notion closers cannot succeed on California dirt was proven false, at least in this particular race. Arcangues ran down the need-the-lead favorite, who had a comfortable trip for most of the race. No pace collapse occurred. Arcangues simply outran Bertrando, fair and square, and paid $269.20 for $2.

The following season, Arcangues transferred to Richard Mandella’s barn and picked up one more graded stakes victory in the John Henry Handicap (GII), before finishing fifth in the Hollywood Turf Handicap (GI) and Hollywood Gold Cup (GI). He then retired. If Arcangues only planned on taking one Grade I in America, he chose the right one.

Bailey captured the following two Breeders’ Cup Classics with Concern and the immortal Cigar.

Fabre trained many more talented horses, although newer fans remember him for Flintshire.

The trio teamed up to win one of the most memorable Breeders’ Cup races in history. More great memories will be made on Nov. 4 and 5 at Santa Anita Park, and who knows, maybe further life-changing scores will occur. Keep watching the replay of Arcangues’ 1993 win and believe it can happen.

Breeders’ Cup Arcangues Replay:

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