Arrogate: The Fastest Travers Horse In History

September 4, 2017

Arrogate the big gray horse bred in Kentucky at Clearsky Farms. The colt was consigned to the Keeneland September sale as a yearling and was purchased for a cool $560,000 by Juddmonte Farms. Arrogate was given to Bob Baffert to train on the west coast. Arrogate the son of Unbridled Song who’s been known to throw winners such as the likes of Will Take Charge, Unrivaled Belle and Zensational. Arrogate’s dam Bubbler won six of nine races in her career. Baffert had set Arrogate’s debut at Los Alamitos in a six furlong affair in April of 2016 piloted by Martin Garcia and went off as the odds on favorite finishing third behind a horse named Westbrook.

Bob felt as though Arrogate needed to be moved up in distance so he stretched him out in his next race at a mile and a sixteenth at Santa Anita as he wired the field and won by two and a half lengths over a horse named Giant Expectations. Bob nursed him along the ranks and moved him to allowance company which he handled with great ease. It was after this that Arrogate would get a really big test running in a Grade1 in Saratoga other wise known as the mid summer derby, The Travers Stakes. This was no small test as Arrogate was set to go up against the likes of Creator and Exaggerator and his highly touted stable mate American Freedom. Exaggerator fresh off a Preakness win and Creator coming out of the last remaining leg of the Triple Crown the Belmont Stakes this was no layup.

Rafael Bejarano who had previously ridden Arrogate was scheduled to ride American Freedom and Money Mike Smith ended up getting the call. I am sure to this day Bejarano wishes he had stuck with Arrogate if he had any decision at all. The gates crashed open and Arrogate piloted by Mike Smith went right to the lead setting blazing fractions while turning for home he kicked free of his rivals and demolished that field by thirteen and half lengths! Not only was his win visually impressive, he also shattered the stakes record that was held for 37 years beating General Assembly’s time of 2:00 Arrogate stopped the clock at 1:59.36. Baffert stated after the race;

“You’re always hoping that they’re that good. I knew he was good, but I didn’t know he was really, really that kind of good.”

Arrogate earned a whopping 122 Beyer speed figure automatically propelling him for potential horse of the year candidate. On November 5th of 2016 A Breeders Cup Classic showdown was set for California Chrome to match up against the likes of Bob’s big gray monster, Arrogate. Chrome piloted by Victor Espinoza led throughout the race while Arrogate tracked in third, turning for home as they entered the stretch both lock step in battle going back and forth Arrogate surged ahead by a half length bodying Chrome at the wire. It was that race that earned Arrogate three year old Champion and a Eclipse award.

The Four Year Old Season-2017

The next possible race was supposed to be the San Pasqual Stakes but due to really bad weather Bob Baffert had decided to not run instead pointing towards the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. It is here where he again hooked up with the likes of California Chrome however both were compromised with bad post positions. Arrogate proving to be tough as nails beat up on this field by five lengths however California Chrome had to be pulled up in the race due to a sustained injury. The timing of the race was marred by controversy as the race was hand clocked at a different timing than what was originally reported by Trakus, Clocked in at 1:47.61 the time was later changed after careful examination frame by frame of the race and it was actually run faster than reported. The new time of the race was 1:46.9 and therefore the speed figures had to be adjusted and Arrogate earned not only a higher than original speed figure he had broken another track record.

Arrogate was now being pointed to the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai facing a filed of 14 with the likes of Gun Runner as one of his adversaries. I remember this day so well because it was one of the first times I had ever seen it rain in Dubai and it had been raining for a few days at this point. I can remember that it had definitely affected how turf races were ran that day for sure. Arrogate broke from the gate very poor in this race and ended up getting squeezed by horses which caused him to get pinched back so far. Seemingly this race was over for Mike Smith and Arrogate however Mike had a different strategy.

Mike was channeling his previous Zenyatta races for this one as he guided Arrogate to the outside on a muddy track slowly inching his way up he was gobbling up ground passing rivals one by one. When he entered the stretch Mike Smith kicked the big grey monster into another gear as he closed super fast on the field zooming by Arrogate as if he was standing still beating him by two and a half lengths at the wire. The purse earnings of this race had boosted Arrogates winnings north of seventeen million. After the race Bob Baffert said;

“Everybody who was here tonight is going to say, ‘I’m glad I was here to see that, If anybody wasn’t super impressed with that, they just don’t like horse racing.” “I still can’t believe he won the race.”

After returning to the states the big grey was given some time off to rest up and on July 22nd he made his return back to the races in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. Going off as the betting favorite in the race subsequently losing finishing fourth by fifteen lengths. He seemed to lack interest in running and Mike smith was quoted as saying “he works out faster than this, I’m dumbfounded.”

Picking themselves back up after this loss and regrouping for the Pacific classic is just what they did. Arrogate was coming into the race with some very stellar works in tow. Seemed like all systems go. Baffert had a stable mate named Collected also entered in the race in which Collected set the fractions however Arrogate was never able to catch him in the stretch. After the race Baffert explained how he felt about Arrogate’s loss by stating;

“It felt “weird” that Collected had won and not Arrogate. “I feel like my older son was beaten by my younger son”

It was after this race that Baffert would decided to give Arrogate one more chance and regroup and run him in the 2017 Breeders Cup Classic. The rematch for Gun Runner and Arrogate had been set. Going off as the 2-1 second choice Smith had announced prior to the race that he was going to be aggressive from the start and try to go right to the lead. Instead he ducked in at the start losing a ton of ground and Gun Runner would get his revenge as he finished 7 lengths ahead of him that day. This was Arrogate’s third loss in a row and surprisingly all at Del Mar. Smith had alluded after the race that he thought he just didn’t like the track surface. ” He just wont run over here”; smith said. Arrogate was retired to stud duty at Juddmonte Farm to live the rest of is long life ahead of him living the life of horse celebrity. Bob Baffert called Arrogate “The Man O’ War of the 21st Century.” “He’s the greatest horse I’ve ever seen run.”

@jonathanstettin, Thank you so much! You are all class!

Mary Rampellini (@DRFRampellini) View testimonials