SARATOGA SPRINGS – He was a lightning bolt across the Thoroughbred racing world.
Then he was gone.
Arrogate made his career stakes debut in the most unlikely of spots, the 2016 Grade I Travers at Saratoga Race Course, in the most unlikely fashion, breaking a track record that had stood since 1979 as an 11-1 long shot.
Seven short months later, Arrogate had also collected the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, beating 2016 Horse of the Year California Chrome in the process; the $12 million Pegasus World Cup (beating California Chrome again); and the $10 million Dubai World Cup, beating eventual 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Arrogate never won again, then died just over three years after the Dubai race, having left just two crops of foals as a stallion.
You can still see glimpses of him at Saratoga Race Course, though, where he became the first horse since the track opened during the Civil War to run under two minutes for a mile and a quarter on the main track.
His daughter Secret Oath, one of the best 3-year-old fillies in the country, ran in the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks and the Grade I Alabama, and his son Artorius is running in Saturday’s Travers.
Like his father was, Artorius is lightly raced heading into the Travers, but he’s the 9-2 third choice on the morning line off an impressive win in the Curlin on July 29.
“I believe this was the first graded stakes Arrogate ever ran in, and same with this horse,” trainer Chad Brown said Thursday morning. “I was told by Dave Grening [of the Daily Racing Form] that today is five years to the day that Arrogate won the Travers. There’s a lot going in his favor as far as history, him and his father, some parallels.”
When Baffert entered Arrogate in the 2016 Travers, the horse had just two maiden races and two allowances on his resume, winning three of them. His stablemate American Freedom, a two-time stakes winner coming in, was more highly regarded.
Arrogate blew away the field in 1:59.36, breaking the track record of 2:00 set by General Assembly when he won the Travers in 1979. It was 13 1/2 lengths back to American Freedom, the third-largest winning margin in Travers history.
Arrogate was retired to stud after finishing fifth to Gun Runner in the 2017 BC Classic, and Juddmonte Farms set his stud fee at $75,000.
His first winner as a sire was a filly named Adversity, who broke her maiden on closing day of the 2021 Saratoga meet.
By then, Arrogate was already dead, having fallen in his stall, taken to the hospital for tests and treatment that was unsuccessful, and euthanized in May of 2020.
So only his remaining offspring are left to carry his legacy.
Juddmonte bred and owns Artorius, having paired him with the mare Paulassilverlining, an accomplished sprinter trained by Brown who won the Grade II Honorable Miss at Saratoga in 2017.
“I trained his mother, a seven-furlong horse, but a very good one, one of the best I’ve ever trained, for a female dirt horse at seven furlongs,” Brown said.
“The horse is a great mix between the two. When you’re breeding horses at this level, you’re talking about breeding Grade I horses to Grade I horses, and you’re hoping for a blend of the two, and oftentimes it doesn’t work out that way.
“Not having trained Arrogate, I was able to see him. He was a tremendous-moving horse and had a tremendous amount of stamina, which Artorius has. And Paulassilverlining wasn’t a very big horse, but had tremendous heart and was a real competitor, and I see that in this horse.”
Meanwhile, Secret Oath is a chestnut whose red coat doesn’t resemble that of Arrogate, a gray with a big flash of white on his forehead and nose.
But there are similarities between daughter and father to be found elsewhere.
“She looks just like him in the head and so forth,” trainer D. Wayne Lukas said during the week leading up to the Aug. 20 Alabama. “Baffert called me after she won a couple races and said she’s actually the spitting image in her movement. He said, ‘If you close your eyes and then open them, you’d watch her going down the racetrack and swear it’s him.’ He called me and told me that.
“I bought another one in the sale here the other day, another filly by Arrogate. I’m going to try it again.”