DEL MAR, California, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Hall of Fame trainer Bill Baffert said it was time for his four-year-old colt Arrogate to retire from racing following a disappointing run at the Breeders' Cup Classic on Saturday.
Arrogate, the all-time leading money winner among North American thoroughbreds and last year's Classic champion, never threatened winner Gun Runner, finishing fifth in the 11-horse race at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club racetrack.
"I hate to make any excuses for the big horse but he's just not the horse he was," Baffert said.
"He's just losing interest and I think that's what it is. He's run so many incredible races that I really think he's just losing interest. That's what it is. It's time (for him to retire)."
In a stellar 2016, Arrogate won the Travers Stakes in his first stakes appearance, defeated the vaunted California Chrome in the Classic and was named IFHA's World's Best Racehorse.
The gray colt, who is owned by Juddmonte Farms, went on to win the Pegasus World Cup and pulled off a thrilling come-from-behind win at Dubai World Cup this year.
He came into Saturday's race in a slump, however, having lost his last two starts, both at Del Mar.
"He struggles over this track, but when I got him up to Santa Anita, I thought maybe," Baffert added.
"When he broke, he broke flat-footed and broke in and he weaved in. He lost a lot of momentum there. We were hoping to really send him away from there."
Despite the loss, two of Baffert's three other horses performed well.
Four-year-old colt Collected came in second and put pressure on the speedy Gun Runner down the stretch, while three-year-old West Coast finished third.
"Collected is a really good horse. We know how good he is," he said.
"West Coast ran really well. He's a horse that wants to be forwardly placed."
The other Baffert-trained horse, Mubtaahij, finished eighth.
Baffert said more than anything he was undone by Gun Runner, who dominated the race and never relinquished the lead despite being challenged by Collected and West Coast.
"You have to give Gun Runner credit," he said. "He laid it down and he took a lot of heat." (Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Nick Mulvenney)