Arrogate Sets Track Record in 13 Length Travers Triumph
A horse that missed the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown races this year emerged as a dominant force heading into the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. Arrogate, who had never run in a stakes race before and was making just his fifth career start, ran his way into the history books Saturday in the Midsummer Derby at Saratoga. In a 1 ¼ mile track record time of 1:59.36, Arrogate annihilated the other 12 challengers to win the 147th running of the Travers Stakes by 13 ½ lengths; the third-largest winning margin in the storied history of the race.
Arrogate, a gray colt by the late Unbridled’s Song, was jockey Mike Smith’s third Travers winner, which includes 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull.
“I rode his father – he looks so much like his father,” said Smith. “He was an unbelievably talented horse and his son might be even more talented. It’s crazy. He just did a mile and a quarter and as you can see galloping out, I had trouble getting him to stop. We headed for home and he picked it up when I asked him. I was amazed how he lengthened his stride the last sixteenth of a mile and opened up.”
Fans and horsemen were surprised as well, as Arrogate went off at 11-1 and paid $25.40, $12.60 and $8.40. American Freedom was second for $6.70 and $4.60. The $2 exacta 1-2 paid $134.50. Gun Runner finished third for a $2 trifecta payoff of $2,028
“We ran into a freak today,” said Steve Asmussen, the trainer of Gun Runner. “He never slowed down.”
Arrogate, now 4-0-1 from five starts, earned $670,000 for the Travers triumph. He made some of the best 3-year-olds look ordinary, including the first two finishers in the Belmont Stakes, Creator and Destin, who respectively wound up seventh and ninth. Preakness/Haskell winner Exaggerator never mounted his classic closing kick, and finished eleventh as the 5-2 favorite.
Trainer Bob Baffert has been bringing along the rambunctious Arrogate slowly and waiting for his mind to catch up with his legs. He didn’t rush him along this spring during the Kentucky Derby preps, but this was a high-priced colt purchased for $560,000 two September’s ago. A day following Arrogate’s dominating win, Baffert reflected.
“I really didn’t realize he was going so fast,” Baffert said of the Travers run. “When I heard he went 46 (46.84 seconds for the half-mile), I thought, ‘Wow, he is either a super horse or he is going to cave in and it will be ugly turning for home. I knew he was good, but I didn’t know he was really, really that kind of good.”
Other trainers tossed their praise on the latest 3-year-old star.
“Wow,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Frosted. “It was a wow! Very impressive. He’s a top horse to contend with the California Chromes (Pacific Classic winner in his latest start) and the Frosteds (he won the Whitney here and will run in Saturday’s Woodward).”
Chad Brown, who ran fourth, sixth and eighth with Gift Box, Connect and My Man Sam, and said, “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a performance like that in any Travers.”
Arrogate could join the top dogs of horse racing in the Breeders’ Cup Classic November 5 at Santa Anita. After what he did to the best 3-year-olds on the East Coast, it’s almost mind-boggling to think what he could do if he continues to improve.
“Right now,” Baffert said, “my job is to keep him healthy and to keep him sound. I was watching the race a couple times last (Saturday) night and I could not believe the way he just kept on rolling. It was just incredible.”
Watch for yourself.