Late-developing Arrogate, who in a little more than six months went from unraced 3-year-old to the toast of the racing world, ran down 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome in the shadow of the finish line to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic in one of its most memorable renewals.
While this was Arrogate’s first taste of Breeders’ Cup success, the colt’s connections have long feasted at the Breeders’ Cup table. Jockey Mike Smith padded his all-time leading win total in the championship series to 25, while Arrogate’s conditioner, Bob Baffert, won an unprecedented third successive Classic and 14th Breeders’ Cup victory overall, second behind only D. Wayne Lukas.
Owned by the Juddmonte Farms of Prince Khalid Abdullah, Arrogate captured the mile and one-quarter Classic in only his sixth career start. It was the owner’s fifth Breeders’ Cup trophy.
The roan son of Unbridled’s Song was mostly overshadowed leading up to the race by the presence of racing’s all-time leading earner California Chrome, who was unbeaten in six races for the year. However, Arrogate was fresh from a record-smashing 13 ½-length romp in the venerable Travers Stakes at Saratoga, astonishingly coming in the colt’s first-ever stakes performance.
The strategy unfolded early in the Classic with California Chrome loping to a comfortable daylight lead, while Arrogate was content to stalk in third position. As the field entered the final bend for home, California Chrome was still in front, but Mike Smith had begun to ask Arrogate for more run. Turning into the straightaway, California Chrome was still ahead, but his margin was slowly beginning to diminish as Smith set down the long-striding Arrogate for the drive. With less than a furlong to run, it appeared that California Chrome would hold on, then Arrogate found another gear and roared past the odds-on favorite to edge ahead in the final 100 yards to win by a half length at the wire. So dominant was the pair that they distanced themselves from the third-place finisher by more than 10 lengths.
Afterward Smith gleefully exclaimed, “That was incredible. I’m at a loss for words. He’s such a young horse. He’s so talented. He’s got amazing stamina. He doesn’t quit. He’s incredible.”
Added Baffert, “When Chrome was out there cruising, I thought no way he’s going to catch him. Then all of a sudden, Mike’s riding and he’s catching up little by little with that big stride kicking in. I never though he would be able to catch Chrome.”
Arrogate was bred in Kentucky by Clearksy Farms and purchased at the Keeneland Sales by his owner for $500,000.
The colt’s sire, Unbridled’s Song, was also a Breeders’ Cup winner, capturing the 1995 Juvenile, as was his own sire, Unbridled, triumphant in the 1990 Classic. Unbridled’s Song now stands alone atop the Breeder’s Cup sire list as Arrogate become a record fifth offspring to capture one of the championships.