Arrogate, That’s Horse Racing
The shock defeat of Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate in a minor race at Del Mar on America’s west coast was the big story of the weekend in international racing.
Officially rated the best horse in the world, and the highest prizemoney earner in racing history, Arrogate appeared to have a simple task on his first outing since a spectacular win at Meydan in March.
But, the four-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song was disappointing. He ran flat and beat only one home in the five-runner G2 San Diego Handicap, finishing more than 15 lengths behind winner Accelerate.
So, what went wrong? Bob Baffert was baffled. Asked for an explanation, the readily-quotable trainer replied: “He ran as if he had just laid an egg.”
In some ways, it is a reminder that all horses, at all levels, can put in a bad run. Even when all the indicators point positive, something can occur to put the horse off his game.
For Baffert and his team, a couple of days’ monitoring of Arrogate in his barn may uncover a reason for the poor run. Then again, it may not.
There have been many examples of top horses running below par in important races.
I recall the brilliant Arazi, who won eight races straight, including an unforgettable victory in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, coming back to Louisville for the 1992 Kentucky Derby and finishing eighth behind Lil E Tee.
Arazi won one race after that, a G2 at Longchamp, but will forever be remembered as one of the most brilliant juveniles of modern times.
Cigar, who looked almost invincible two decades ago, was surprisingly beaten in the G1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar in 1996 when attempting a 17th consecutive win, while only two years ago, American Pharoah was beaten in the G1 Travers Stakes.
It does happen, even the greats can be beaten. The challenge facing Baffert now is to get one of racing’s biggest box office stars back on track for the major prizes at the back end of the season.