Arrogate was regarded as the best horse in the world less than a month ago and it was all but impossible to find anyone who would argue with that assessment. Then he fired a bummer for the ages at 1-20. He'll be prohibitively short again Saturday in the Pacific Classic. The old Arrogate is worth any price. But will we see the old Arrogate? No one, including Bob Baffert, especially Bob Baffert, has an explanation for what happened in the San Diego Handicap.This adds intrigue to a race that looked until July 22 to be a million dollar public workout.

Can’t play him, can’t play against him, although the latter might be the more prudent course.

This is the dilemma facing horse players regarding Arrogate in Saturday’s $1 million Pacific Classic. Based on his overall body of work, Arrogate should be 1-20, as he was in the San Diego Handicap a month ago. Based on his San Diego dud, beaten more than 15 lengths, he should be 20-1.

Almost every horse throws in a clunker now and then. Arrrogate’s effort on July 22 went far beyond this. It was downright horrendous, so terrible it raises questions about his physical and mental state. Is there some undetectable ailment bothering him? Has he soured on racing?

Bob Baffert dove on his sword, saying he might have sent out a short horse, who was racing for the first time since his had-to-be-seen-to-be-believed triumph in Dubai. This was a trainer, who uncharacteristically doesn’t have a clue what happened, protecting his horse’s reputation. If there is one thing Baffert doesn’t do, it’s send out short horses. Nobody drills his stock harder. Moreover, he said many times before the San Diego that Arrogate was ready to do his thing.

Second verse, same as the first: Baffert said Arrogate is back to his old self after his final Pacific Classic workout on Monday, four furlongs in 47.60. “He just cruised around. We’re set.”

You have to think Baffert believes this. Arrogate, at least before the San Diego, was headed for a career at stud as the horse Baffert said in Dubai is the greatest since Secretariat. This would include his Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Anything less than one of Arrogate’s stellar efforts on Saturday could send him to the stud barn severely tarnished goods. He’ll still be in demand but it won’t be the same. Moreover, another disappointing race almost surely will be his last. It’s doubtful the sheiks would risk a third strike on his resume.

They shouldn’t. If Arrogate can’t crush the modest bunch he’s scheduled to face, it would make little sense to keep him in training for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, where the opposition, including the constantly improving Gun Runner, will be a lot more daunting.

There is an appealing alternative: “the other Baffert,” Collected.” It’s not like we haven’t seen that show before.

The new stoopers

The advances of technology generally come with a new set of problems. Self automated betting terminals are the greatest innovation since all-denomination, all-pools betting drove $2, $5 and $10 win-place-show windows into extinction.

Unfortunately they have also created a new breed of stoopers, the desperate band of down-and-out losers, who used to pick up discarded mutual tickets then check them against the results in the hope someone threw away a winning ticket.

SAM machines have taken most of the work out of this, a point driven home during my week at Saratoga. I’ve been a habituate of the Top of the Stretch since my first visit many years ago. These days the only way to bet in this area is via a SAM machine.There are no human tellers.

The new stoopers tie up these machines by taking stacks of discarded tickets and running them through the machines one by one, where the legend “ticket not a winner” pops up again and again.

I’ve seen these people doing the same thing at Gulfstream but not in the numbers I experienced at the Spa, where SAM machines are not plentiful near the Top of the Stretch. Worse, these inconsiderate losers don’t care if there are long lines of anxious bettors, who they might shut out.

I don’t know what the solution would be. Perhaps something like some cell phones where you get three tries at your password, then it locks. Maybe after “ticket not a winner” goes up three times in a row, the machine could freeze until an attendant unlocks it. But this might be a solution worse than the problem when it comes to bettors getting shut out.

Another idea might be for a flashing red light to activate until someone puts in a legitimate winning ticket or voucher. Unfortunately, from what I experienced at Saratoga, these new stoopers are shameless.

The floor is open for suggestions.

It had to be said

Stuart Janney closed the annual Jockey Club Round Table with an indictment of racing’s inability to clean its own house.

Hallelujah! What took so long?

Keying off the recent scandals in Pennsylvania, where trainer Murray Rojas was found guilty by a federal jury of 14 charges of drugging horses and related offenses, Janney said, “What happened in Pennsylvania recently is disgraceful and sad…Uncontradicted testimony described widespread, in fact nearly universal cheating, regulators asleep on the job and a corrupted and ineffectual testing system.”

One of Rojas’s colleagues, a several times leading trainer at Penn National, testified under oath that about 98 percent of the trainers at the track cheat.

The dispiriting aspect of this is Janney is the first racing figure of note to take off on this. Cyber racing sites, such as Horse Race Insider, have become the new conscience and watchdog of racing.

Janney said that what happened in Pennsylvania gives all of racing a black eye. “It suggests strongly that similar problems lurk in many other jurisdictions.” You think?

He also blasted the HBPA, whose actions in the Rojas case merit all the scorn that can be mustered. “What about the HBPA’s role in all this? Could we have expected them to marshall their resources to represent all the horsemen who have been wronged by cheaters? We all know that the HBPA’s Legal Defense Fund was used to help fund Murray Rojas’ defense. Their stated reason is a disgrace and will end up producing the exact result that they so wished to prevent, the intervention by the federal government to clean up racing.”

It also leads—my words, not Janney’s—to a perception that horsemen not only condone cheating, they support it.

What someone of Janney’s stature said is long overdue. Alas, I can’t help thinking of the irreverent adage, “When all is said and done, more will be said than done.”