By Nicholas Godfrey
Following the death of Arrogate on Tuesday, legendary trainer Bob Baffert reflected on what the dual world champion had achieved during a spectacular career.
“I’ll never have another horse put together four magical races like that,” said Baffert, speaking to the Blood-Horse.
“That horse was one of the greatest horses I ever trained. His race in the Dubai World Cup will go down as the greatest performance of any horse I’ve trained.”
Given that this was the man who in recent seasons has trained American Pharoah and Justify to complete Triple Crowns, it was quite a compliment.
According to a Juddmonte statement, Arrogate was put down aged seven on Tuesday after an unspecified illness. When he retired at the end of his four-year-old campaign in November 2017, he was the world’s all-time highest prize-money earner (since eclipsed by Winx) with in excess of $17.2 million.
Here, then, are the races in which the lanky roan colt established his reputation under Mike Smith in a hugely lucrative four-race winning spree.
Travers Stakes (Saratoga, August 2016)
A big, immature horse, Arrogate was not ready to compete in the Triple Crown. After lower-grade victories in southern California, he is more than ready for his coming-out party at Saratoga with a 13½-length romp in the ‘midsummer derby’.
Bob Baffert: “Going into Saratoga, we knew what we had but we didn’t know he was gonna explode like that. We knew he could win but that was the first time we let him run like that.”
Breeders’ Cup Classic (Santa Anita, November 2016)
A race to remember as big-striding superstar Arrogate runs down odds-on favourite California Chrome with the third-placed horse nearly 11 lengths back.
Bob Baffert said: “That was an incredible race by two incredible horses and the way he ran down California Chrome down was pretty impressive. It took a super effort to catch a horse like California Chrome but when Mike went to the right hand, Arrogate got on his right lead and took off like a rocket.”
Pegasus World Cup (Gulfstream Park, January 2017)
An imperious, arrogant performance that puts the new race on the map. Billed as a Breeders’ Cup rematch, the inaugural running of what was then the world’s richest race is anything but as only one horse shows up. “Is it time to call him ‘Arro-great’?” suggests the post-race headline in the Blood-Horse.
Bob Baffert: “You know what? He’s a superior horse. He made that move at the three-eighths pole I knew right there: boy, this horse is throwing into the gears and it was going to take something really special to run him down. To be able to train a horse like that is pretty incredible. His stride is just incredible and he came back and he’s really not that tired.”
Dubai World Cup (Meydan, March 2017)
“Here comes the Big A!” suggests Dubai race caller Terry Spargo in a memorable effort. “A is for Arrogate, A is for absolute superstar, A is for anointing – have we seen the Man o’War of the 21st Century?” An astonishing last-to-first, Zenyatta-like display on a wet track as Arrogate overcomes adversity in what was arguably the greatest performance ever seen at Meydan.
Bob Baffert: “If anybody wasn’t super-impressed by that, they just don’t like horse racing. He gave me goose bumps. it was pretty incredible what he did – you only see that in movies, where they’re way last and then they come around and circle the field. If someone asked what’s the greatest race you’ve ever witnessed? It would be Arrogate winning Dubai.”