Beyond Imagination - By Evan Hammonds

While we were watching the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) from afar—from the home office near Versailles, Ky.—the strength of Arrogate’s last-to-first run was beyond compare. Even the following day, or day after that for that matter, it’s hard to come to grips with just how special this horse is.

To have witnessed it live may been too much for the senses, but to get a good feel for it, read Alicia Wincze Hughes’ eyewitness account of the Dubai World Cup program on page 18.

Arrogate has taken his game to great heights in a very short period of time. In just an 11-month period the gun-metal gray has boosted his career earnings to near world-record territory.

This time last year Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate had earned $0. After the World Cup the Unbridled’s Song colt became the leading North American earner (at least one start on the continent) all-time with $17,084,600 in the bank. After just eight starts he’s now the third-leading earner of all-time worldwide.

Arrogate has earned an unheard of $16,300,000 in the span of just five months with his score in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1), and Dubai World Cup.

That is Powerball or Mega Millions-type money.

The birth of the $12 million Pegasus Cup led to an unprecedented three-race run that can only be described as the Grand $lam of international competition—with an emphasis on the “$.”

Arrogate has surpassed the earnings mark held by California Chrome, who scaled the peak just last year with his own score in Dubai. Two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome earned more than $14.7 million, winning five races with seven-figure purses. His best three-race rake was $6,720,000 when he won the Dubai World Cup last year, then added $120,000 for taking the San Diego Handicap (G2) and $600,000 from the $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1). That is just a scant 41% of what Arrogate was able to bring in over a three-race period.

Curlin, whose $10,501,800 career earnings mark held for eight years, brought home a similar haul ($6,405,000) over a three-race run in 2007-08 with his $2.7 million prize for the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Powered by Dodge, and $105,000 for a handicap race in Dubai that set up the $3.6 million from the World Cup when the race was worth $6 million.

To show how far the purses at the top of the game have come in the last 20 years, mighty Cigar, winner of the inaugural Dubai World Cup at the old Nad Al Sheba, earned $2.4 million in the desert. His win in the Donn Handicap (G1) that had prepped him for Dubai was worth $180,000 and his prior win in the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Classic had netted $1,560,000, giving him a three-race run of $4,140,000.

Before that, in the pre-World Cup realm, Alysheba closed his career with a $2,208,600 three-race jackpot with wins in the Woodward Handicap (G1) at Belmont, the Meadowlands Cup Handicap (G1), and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

In the pre-Breeders’ Cup age John Henry finished his career with a $1,715,150 best three-race run in 1984 with wins in the Budweiser Million (G1T), Turf Classic (G1T) at Belmont, and Meadowlands’ Ballantine’s Scotch Classic Handicap.

Running these stats through a cost of living calculator courtesy of the American Institute for Economic Research, in today’s dollars the three-race runs shake out like this:

  • Curlin ($7,209,350)
  • Cigar ($6,591,320)
  • Alysheba ($4,529,500)
  • John Henry ($4,029,770)

It seems the racing game is in tandem with the recent trends in the auction arena that has seen contraction and a concentration at the very top of the market. For those lucky enough to reach this level—and win a Grand $lam-type series—the rewards are out of this world.

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