All sports at the highest level are equally dependent upon calculating the odds In order to arrive on what can be universally accepted as one of the most influential performances on the courts, courses, fields, and diamonds across the globe. Whether it is soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, boxing, gymnastics or any other of a number of options there remain only a handful of spectacular displays of excellence that completely define the epitome of courage. The odds of witnessing one of these performances live would require dividing the entire number of events since the beginning of the sport and dividing it by the tiny collection of “best ofs.” Attending even 1000 soccer games during a lifetime would rarely provide even a glimpse of hope for being in the stands for one of the top athletic performances in the sport’s history.
As a fan of Thoroughbred Racing My journey to the 2017 Dubai World Cup allowed me to understand exactly how lucky and blessed I was to be present when one of the most defining moments in all of the millions of races spanning more than a century unfolded. I may have not been there to witness Secretariat roar down the stretch in 1973 to a 31 length victory in the Belmont, but I was there when Arrogate ran the best race of his career in the Dubai World Cup in 2017. On that glorious day I was there to catch a glimpse of “lightning in a bottle,” and I will remember it for the rest of my life. I have never seen the type of discourage displayed when a horse notorious for running at or near the front of races was left to overcome a seemingly impossible deficit of lengths against the very best horses in the world. At that instant, I realized along with the world, that there were two distinct categories of competing thoroughbreds – Arrogate and every other racehorse.
As Arrogate retires to stud at legendary Juddmonte Farms in Kentucky after earning more than any racehorse in the history of the sport in less than a six-month span I only wonder what future gifts he will bestow upon the sport by way of his colts and fillies. Like one of the brightest stars moving quickly through the night sky the great Champion left nothing behind him other than streaks of sheer brilliance too bold for many to comprehend.
Royalty and Heart – The Perfect Blend for Success:
Foaled April 11th, 2013, from Unbridled’s Song and Bubbler, Arrogate had the potential from his quality bloodline of becoming a very good thoroughbred. With Kentucky Derby Winners in his ancestry combined with Meadow Star, considered by many to be the best two-year-old filly to ever race the family tradition of the $560,000 purchase-price Keeneland yearling was a recipe for winning. It may have been the ability to overcome adversity that led to the overwhelming resolve and competitive heart that ultimately separated Arrogate from other.
As a yearling he suffered a major infection from being kicked in the teeth by other horses that led to a significant weight loss. Iconic trainer, Bob Baffert quickly gained confidence in a three-year-old who lost his first race but bounced back to win three races in a row with despite major steps upward in the level of competition. Baffert quickly filled the improving horse’s plate with what seemed like an insurmountable task when he was entered against proven greats Gun Runner, Creator and Exaggerator in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Arrogate not only won at more than 10-1 odds but sent the kind of resounding message that can only be heard by the horses who compete on the track.
A Pony With Unlimited Tricks:
After the Travers, Jockey Mike Smith, Baffert and Arrogate rocked the racing world by winning the three biggest racing events one after the other. It was the biggest “hat trick” not only in the history of horse racing but possibly the most significant since the invention of hats or the establishment of tricks. The 2016 Breeders Cup Classic, against none other than the great California Chrome along with the best the sport had to offer started the series of racing miracles, earning him 2016 Horse of the Year honors.
The 2017 Pegasus World Cup, again featuring Chrome and other powerhouses came next. Finally, it was in the 2017 Dubai World Cup competing with top challengers from all continents that proved precisely how far above the others Arrogate had risen. The Dubai Cup Win was an achievement that left all of us who witnessed it trying to pick up our jaws from the floor and allow the significance of what had occurred to sink in.
Where Arrogate Fits In:
Trainer Bob Baffert declared Arrogate to be the best he had ever seen and compared him to Secretariat. After completing a string of what could arguably be considered as super-natural performances the wear and tear from launching himself into the next dimension started to become visible. How could a horse have ever made the transition from flesh to immortal legend and be expected not to become physically shaken? Arrogate had earned more and proved more of himself in less than six months than any other horse had done during their multi-year careers. With more than $17 Million US in earnings nothing had come close to the success of racing’s brightest star.
When Magic and Luck Run Into Each Other:
Having witnessed Arrogate’s best career performance and possibly the greatest racing comeback from a bad start in the history of the sport, I can speak frankly about some of the characteristics that made Arrogate a legend. It was his tenacity, hard work and the ability to push his body far beyond normal limits that define this great racing legend. Arrogate may have seemed to win contests with his body but the type of courage he illustrated in his stretch battles against California Chrome and other greats can only come from the heart – his is that of a lion. For those who try and explain what is possible in the sport, I will always be able to recognize that the word impossible will forever be overshadowed by one name – Arrogate. I was there to witness with my own eyes this magnificent competitor impose his will to win on all who dared to challenge his greatness.
Arrogate’s Greatest Victories:
Arrogates most impressive victories came consecutively over four races. When one brave and exceptionally ambitious leap, he skyrocketed from California Allowance races onto racing’s center stage in New York at the 2016 Travers Stakes. He wired the field and set a new track record.
His next hill to climb was one which seemed insurmountable to virtually any horse throughout the history of the sport. In the 2016 Breeders Cup Classic, he would square off with none other than the legendary California Chrome. In a stretch battle which will endure the ages, he bested Chrome who put forth an exemplary and courageous effort to cross the line first.
After defeating Chrome in the Breeder’s Cup Classic, he signed up to compete with him again in the highly publicized rematch in the first ever 2017 Pegasus World Cup. Arrogate appeared even more impressive than in the Classic and won easily in a performance that set him apart from the rest of the champions of our time.
It was not until his rough start from the gate during the 2017 Dubai World Cup that fans understood how extraordinary Arrogate had become. After being left behind by what all counts could be recognized as an impossible setback to overcome, the seasoned frontrunner, who smashed the competition in past wire-to-wire and forwardly placed tactical victories came roaring down the stretch with an unbelievable late kick that literally left jaws dropping.
2016 Travers Stakes:
Arrogate stunned the field of top competitors with an unexpected wire-to-wire, new track record performance – seizing the world’s attention in only 1:59 .36.
2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic:
Arrogate unleashed his will to courageously edge past California Chrome during one of the most memorable stretch duels of all time.
Pegasus World Cup 2017:
Arrogate romped in a seemingly effortless repeat win over 2016 Horse of the Year California Chrome along with a host of other greats – emerging victorious as the first Pegasus Champion.
2017 Dubai World Cup:
Overcoming a seemingly impossible margin after a bad start from the gate Arrogate shocked the world of racing with his electrifying late running stretch masterpiece which vaulted him high above all runners of his generation.