Arrogate went from unknown to top contender in two spectacular minutes on August 27 in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. The two minutes — officially noted as 1:59.36 — lowered the previous track record set in 1979 for 1 ¼ miles.
His jockey Mike Smith — who guided Arrogate’s sire Unbridled’s Song to victory in the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile — was among those astounded by the performance.
“Galloping out, I had trouble getting him to stop,” Smith said immediately after the Travers. “We headed for home and he picked it up when I asked him. I was amazed how he lengthened his stride the last sixteenth of a mile and opened up.”
Trainer Bob Baffert was equally impressed.
“I was like a fan, thinking 'Wow!’ What did we just witness?'" he said the day after the Travers.
Baffert, owner Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms, and their teams zeroed in on Arrogate when he was an untapped talent. Although Juddmonte Farms specializes in breeding their own world-class runners, they have begun adding others to their well-bred herd. Arrogate was purchased for $560,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale.
Arrogate was given plenty of time to develop before making his first start in April. Sent to post as the overwhelming favorite in his career debut, the gray colt finished third at Los Alamitos Race Course in Southern California, but has not been beaten since. After three allowance-level triumphs at Santa Anita and Del Mar, Arrogate vaulted into the stakes ranks and the history books in the Travers Stakes.
Plans call for Arrogate to use that Travers Stakes as his final prep race to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Baffert used to the same strategy with last year’s Travers Stakes runner-up and Breeders' Cup Classic hero American Pharoah.