LOS ANGELES, December 5, 2016—What do Mike Smith, Bob Baffert, Gary Stevens, Richard Mandella, Bill Mott, Aiden O'Brien, Michael Stoute, and Frankie Dettori have in common?

Well, they're all racing legends that have won multiple Breeders' Cup races for decades--and they did so again in 2016. And none of the winners were the public’s choice.

Like some human recording stars, many of racing's equine stars can be one-hit wonders. Though spectacular first-time successes create cherished memories and visions of sugar plums, stardom is truly bequeathed against proven competition on center stage.

That’s what makes the Breeders' Cup work, and its strength is that it does so multiple times a day across multiple divisions.

What often gets overlooked is the overall performances of jockeys and trainers. Owners choose conditioners proven to have their high-priced horseflesh ready when it counts.

Likewise, trainers want riders known for coolness under pressure by overcoming unexpected obstacles in order to make the most of their preparation without costly error.

Smith's latest Breeders’ Cup win on Arrogate was his third of 2016 and 25th overall. Many were disappointed he didn’t win a fourth event aboard the very popular Songbird, who suffered her lone career defeat in the Distaff.

Instead, it was good friend Gary Stevens who won the Distaff on sentimental favorite and Eclipse champion Beholder for Dick Mandella, snatching victory from defeat’s jaws that was reminiscent of his ride on Victory Gallop denying Real Quiet Triple Crown immortality. It takes a legend to beat one.

But the true golden oldie is Smith, whose (8) 3-3-1 record in this year’s event elevated Money Mike’s achievement to platinum status especially since his other winners, Tamarkuz and Finest City, reported home at 11-1 and 8-1, respectively.

If Smith was heartbroken by the photo decision that went against Songbird, he didn't show it Saturday aboard Arrogate, engineering a close but decisive victory over older male champion California Chrome.

In the Classic, Smith's patience and confidence enabled him to reverse the role he had played in the previous day's feature, happy that he enhanced his mount’s chances of winning three-year old championship, maybe even Horse of the Year.

For his part, it was Travers Day all over again for Bob Baffert, who sent out both Drefong and Arrogate to repeat wins in their respective races.

Baffert, of course, started out as a quarter horse trainer fittingly winning his first Breeders’ Cup race in the 1992 Sprint in 1992, an event he’s won five times, including a back-to-backer with Midnight Lute in 2007-08.

But he also proved once again there’s no better conditioner of 10-furlong Grade I stakes runners. Indeed, Arrogate gave him back-to-back Classic wins as well, joining American Pharoah, Game On Dude, Real Quiet, Silver Charm and War Emblem, underscoring his mastery of mile and a quarter Grade 1s.

Another notable irony was that Baffert's Classic repeat required a reversal in roles for Smith and Victor Espinoza, American Pharoah’s partner.

The Chrome camp, of course, is chomping at the bit for a rematch in the Pegasus World Cup Invitation, but what do Arrogate's connections really gain by meeting California Chrome again at a shorter 9 furlongs, except perhaps getting 7-1 on a million-dollar bet?

Then again, $1.75 million for second and $1 million for third are worthwhile consolations when added to potential sharing of ancillary revenue.

As for the Pegasus, should destiny deposit the desired dozen stars to compete beneath the gaze of Pegasus himself, the ultimate winner should be the Stronach Group.

They had better after establishing new levels of admission and seating pricing that will limit participation in the event to only the deepest of pockets interested in racing.

Perhaps related in some way, Santa Anita recently announced a purse reduction for the "Big Cap," from $1M to $750K. Maybe TSG is considering a bonus-incentivized series that includes the Pegasus, Santa Anita Handicap and another graded stake at one of their properties to be named later.

Incrementalizing the purses of any subsequent legs for each starting Pegasus performer couldn't hurt potential Pegasus participation.

It also might be worth some discussion that rewards trainers and jockeys independent of the horses involved, perhaps another aspect of the promotion sure to come.

Mike Smith, while certainly one of the very best, isn’t the only money rider around, right?