Arrogate the Four-Race Phenom

Despite what the history books say, there really is not a big difference between an all-time great horse and a horse who had all-time greatness in him. Human athletes like Sandy Koufax, Gale Sayers, and Bo Jackson showed how all-time greatness can be demonstrated even in an abbreviated career. 

Those athletes obviously had longer careers than Arrogate, but still short by human standards. What Arrogate accomplished in a four-race span likely will never be duplicated. Now, even Arrogate's stud career and his life have been cut short. 

Who knows what his other-worldly victory in the Dubai World Cup cost him when he returned home only to become a mere shell of himself. If he were human, people would have said, "We'll he finally showed he was human." Before that, he was on another plateau; one that he reached from seemingly out of nowhere on an August day in Saratoga when he burst on the scene sending shock waves across the racing world. No one could explain his sudden and dramatic rise, just as no one could explain his sudden and dramatic decline in this three final races at Del Mar.

Many of the experts and analysts and some top local horsemen said they did not like the way he was moving, specifically the way he was pushing off from behind, during the summer when he turned in a couple of subpar works in addition to his defeats. But that will never be proven.

Perhaps his trainer Bob Baffert came closest to an explanation when he said, "He lost a lot of weight after Dubai, especially over his withers. He lost his power and his hind foot had problems."

Well, Samson lost his power, but he was still only remembered for his incredible feats of strength.

And what feats of strength we witnessed from Arrogate. He won the Travers Stakes (G1) on the lead in a 13-horse field, shattering a 37-year-old track record, while romping by 13 1/2 lengths in a spectacular 1:59 1/5; he twice won stalking from just off the pace, once running down a loose on the lead two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) and once breaking a track record in the rich Pegasus World Cup (G1); and he won coming from dead-last in a 14-horse field in the Dubai World Cup (G1) after a horrible break, turning in one of the most unbelievable performances anyone had ever seen, while blowing by future Horse of the Year Gun Runner to win going away.

To further summarize how remarkable his whirlwind career was, in only four races, I repeat, four races, Arrogate defeated:

-- Two Horses of the Year

-- The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers of the Kentucky Derby (G1)

-- 2 Preakness  (G1) winners

-- The 1st and 2nd place finishers of the Belmont Stakes (G1)

-- The 1st and 2nd place finishers of the Dubai World Cup

-- 2 Santa Anita Handicap (G1) winners

-- A Pacific Classic (G1) winner

-- A Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) winner

-- A Travers Stakes winner

-- A Met Mile (G1) winner

-- A Whitney Stakes (G1) winner

-- A Woodward Stakes (G1) winner

-- A Stephen Foster (G1) winner

-- A Cigar Mile (G1) winner

-- A Haskell Invitational (G1) winner

-- A Queens Plate winner

-- 2 Clark Handicap (G1) winners

-- 2 UAE Derby (G2) winners

-- 2 group I winners in Japan

-- 2 group I winners in Dubai

-- A Group I winner in Argentina and Chile

-- A Group winner in England and Turkey

Once again, that is in only four races. And he defeated the majority of those horses by double-digit margins.

In those four races, at four different tracks and in two countries, he ran outrageous Beyer speed figures of 122, 120, 119, and 115, broke two track records, including a 37-year-old record at Saratoga, and earned a 141 Timeform figure, the highest Timeform figure in the 25 years since it began rating horses in North America. And, as mentioned earlier, he won those four races on the lead in a 13-horse field, coming from third and fifth, and coming from dead-last in a 14-horse field.

I had the privilege to visit Arrogate twice at Juddmonte, and there was a magnificence about him that is difficult to put into words. You didn't just see Arrogate, you felt him.

Arrogate is gone way too soon. In some ways he will remain an enigma. But most of all he will be remembered as a phenom, unlike anything we have ever seen before.

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