Sunday, January 22, 2017
Bob Baffert's Breeders' Cup winners Arrogate and Drefong both won championship honors in their division at Saturday night's Eclipse Award ceremony at Gulfstream Park, with Arrogate taking the 3-year-old Male category, while Drefong took home Champion Sprinter honors.
Arrogate burst on the stakes scene with his incredible effort in the Travers S. (G1), where he won by 13 ½ lengths, setting a 10-furlong track record of 1:59 1/5 and earning a stunning 122 Beyer Speed Figure. He didn't race again until the Breeder's Cup Classic (G1) in early November, but backed up his Travers tour-de-force with another spectacular race, defeating eventual Horse of the Year California Chrome by a half-length in 2 minutes flat and earning a Beyer of 120.
Owned by Juddmonte Farm, Arrogate has won five of six outings and earned $4,084,600. He is scheduled to make his 4-year-old debut in the Jan. 28, $12 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park, where he will face California Chrome once again.
“I'd like to thank Donato (Lanni) for their expertise in picking Arrogate out at the sales,” said Juddmonte's racing manager Garrett O'Rourke. “I want to thank Bob Baffert and his staff for guiding Arrogate to brilliant performances on the most important days. And finally, I'd like to thank Mike Smith for his ability to fit his contribution to Arrogate's success into less than four minutes.”
Drefong, who didn't make his 2016 debut until May 30, was undefeated in four starts last year. After a pair of easy allowance wins, he stepped up to Grade 1 company in the King's Bishop and came away with a commanding 3 1/4-length victory. He turned back the best sprinters in the world with another solid win the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1), earning his third straight Beyer Speed Figure of 103.
Drefong, who races in the colors of Charles Chu's Baoma Corporation, missed an expected start in the Dec. 26 Malibu S. (G1) after spiking a fever, but connections are aiming for the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) in late March. A bay son of three-time champion Gio Ponti, Drefong has won five of six starts and earner $1,203,040.
“I am so honored to be here today,” said co-owner Susan Chu at her acceptance speech. “We are here today because of Drefong. And really we started from nothing, but we were able to get here because we had an incredible trainer in Bob Baffert and a wonderful team, including Donato Lanni and jockeys Mike Smith and Martin Garcia. We are grateful for all of them. We thank you so much for this wonderful honor.”
Baffert now has trained the winners of 19 Eclipse Awards, including Point Given and American Pharoah, who both won Horse of the Year.