Arrogate a Welcome Surprise to Top Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders List
Arrogate a Welcome Surprise to Top Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders List by Reinier Macatangay: After watching Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate devastate the Travers Stakes (GI) field by 13 lengths at Saratoga Race Course, it is hard not to wonder how good this 3-year-old colt can become, or if horses not named California Chrome or Frosted will even get within striking distance of defeating him.
Arrogate, a son of Unbridled’s Song and the Distorted Humor mare Bubbler, improved his record to 5-4-0-1 for trainer Bob Baffert with yesterday’s record-setting Travers win, and kept his undefeated record in routes.
Were there clues?
Well, Arrogate did earn a nice maiden win on June 5 at Santa Anita Park by over four lengths. The field contained none other than Zenyatta’s son Ziconic, who has yet to break his maiden. If there is one nice thing from reviewing the chart though, the short field was a bit spread out, which indicates a fast race.
Next, Arrogate ran in an optional claiming race against older horses on June 24. He faced some nice allowance-level foes, and coasted by over five lengths. Fusaichi Samurai finished second.
Then, Arrogate ran in an Aug. 4 optional claimer at Del Mar, and stalked a slow pace before eventually winning against … Kristo. Yes, he put away Kristo, who finished sixth and last in a recent local optional claimer.
For those three races, he earned a 113, 123 and 121 TimeformUS Speed Figure.
On Daily Racing Form, he picked up a 97, 103 and 99 Beyer Speed Figure for his three previous wins.
So, no, on paper Arrogate was not the fastest horse by a large margin (although it was pointed out that the 103 was the high Beyer), and figured to face pressure from the rail position.
If Arrogate won, it figured to be a bruising battle, where he put away Laoban but had to deal with his more accomplished stablemate American Freedom in the stretch. The two would fight viciously to the wire, while worrying about a late charge from Exaggerator.
Instead, he completely destroyed American Freedom, and American Freedom did not run that bad either! My God, TimeformUS still gave him a 125 speed figure.
Meanwhile, Exaggerator, who was discussed as a Horse of the Year candidate before the race, never showed up. Maybe he needed rain. Who knows?
TimeformUS awarded Arrogate a hefty 139 speed figure for his victory.
Oh sure, California Chrome ran a freakish race of his own in the Pacific Classic (GI) just last weekend, but he “only” earned a 132 for his efforts. Shame.
Frosted “only” earned a 130 for taking down the Woodward Stakes (GI) with ease.
Perhaps California Chrome and Frosted were capable of much more in their recent wins. In that case, rename the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Call it the “Unrealistically Good Classic” or other fitting name. Create a small gate for the “real” contenders Arrogate, California Chrome and Frosted, and a separate gate for horses such as American Freedom, Nyquist, Exaggerator, Dortmund and the rest.
What a race it will be for fourth place. Whichever jockey wins the “B” flight will be fist pumping through the finish line. Forget defeating three freaks of nature. How about beating seven or eight decent horses? Call it a moral victory.
A lot can still happen between now and early November, so it is too early to give the race away to any horse. At the same time, it looks like there are three very talented contenders shaping up, and others who might fill the field. If Frosted delivers a similar blow to his Woodward Stakes (GI) opponents next weekend, imagine the further hype it will generate.
Back in June, Baffert said this about Arrogate: “The plan is to get him to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Mission accomplished. Arrogate turned in an effort deserving of a spot and more.
What a great time to watch horse racing.