Arrogate's tour-de-force victory in Saturday's $1.25 million Travers S. (G1) was the fastest running in the 147-year history of the “Midsummer Derby”, as the steely-gray son of Unbridled's Song devastated the field by some 13 1/2-lengths, with his stablemate American Freedom taking up the place slot in the field of 14 3-year-olds.
“What he did today is pretty incredible,” Arrogate's trainer Bob Baffert said. “He looks like a superstar in the making. So I think the fans will remember watching a horse like this, because I know when I see performances like this, it's very rare.”
High praise from Baffert for his latest star, who gave his trainer a measure of redemption following American Pharoah's gutsy setback in last year's Travers.
"Last year you probably could have poured me out of a shot glass," Baffert said of American Pharoah's defeat. "We were pretty dejected. I felt bad for the horse. The horse got beat. He ran hard. He ran his heart out. So we were sitting here and it was just emotional. The whole town came out to see him do something like Arrogate did today. We were all looking for that turn for home, cheer up, great end of a movie theme. I'm just glad to be back here with another chance at it.”
Arrogate did just what Baffert hoped, and more. After an early scramble for the lead, Arrogate settled in the front spot, with American Freedom less than a length behind. The pace was brisk: :46.84 for the half-mile and 1:10.85 for six furlongs, but Arrogate looked like a fresh horse on the far turn as he increased his lead gradually, until he hit the top of the stretch, when he unleashed an incredible kick to run away from the field.
The final time of 1:59.36 broke General Assembly's track record of 2 minutes flat from 1979 and earned the colt a 122 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest number of the year over a mile.
The win was Baffert's second in the race; in 2001 Point Given would take the honors on his way to being named Horse of the Year.
Arrogate, who was making his first stakes start, is owned by Juddmonte Farms and is now 4-0-1 in five starts and has earned $784,600.
As far as the colt's next start, Baffert was non-committal. “This was the plan, today. So I'll just get him back, and then we'll see how much this race took out of him. That was a pretty big jump that he made today. I'm sure that all his Beyers and sheet numbers are going to be off the chart. There's no rush. I think that he's the kind of horse that, after what he did today, he could go into the Breeders' Cup (G1 Classic) fresh like Pharaoh did. I don't think that's a big problem for him. I think that, what he did today, he deserves a little break.”