Arrogate bounce discussion inevitable, sprint stars also on display

Profile Picture: James Scully

August 31st, 2016

Arrogate’s Travers (G1) stretch run was a thing of beauty as the lightly-raced colt stretched a short lead into a 13 ½-length tour de force, smashing the 37-year-old track record as he completed 1 ¼ miles in 1:59.36. The Bob Baffert-trained son of Unbridled’s Song ran fast early and late in leading wire to wire.

His 124 BRIS Speed rating is the top figure ever awarded ( began calculating numbers in 1990).

Baffert plans to train Arrogate up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on November 5, attempting to minimalize any negative aftereffects from such a massive performance, and the Hall of Famer won last year’s Classic off a similar layoff with American Pharoah.

However, American Pharoah had captured the Triple Crown before being upset at Saratoga and Arrogate was making stakes debut in the Travers.

We may as well brace ourselves for the inevitability of the bounce discussion.

The terminology holds little value for some because there’s no certainty to it -- one horse will run back to a career-best performance while another doesn’t -- but it’s synonymous with a regression. And common to all sports.

Extenuating circumstances may play a part – Dreaming of Julia experienced a rough trip finishing fourth as the 2013 Kentucky Oaks (G1) favorite after winning the Gulfstream Oaks (G2) by a resounding 21 ¾-length margin – but a drop-off in performance is easy to identify. And while there’s practically no chance Arrogate will reproduce his 124 Speed rating in the Classic, he won’t need to in order to prove best at Santa Anita.

The last five Classic winners received the following numbers: 113 (American Pharoah), 110 (Bayern), 108 (Mucho Macho Man), 105 (Fort Larned) and 110 (Drosselmeyer).

Arrogate will be facing a class hike if popular older horses California Chrome and Frosted show up as expected in the Classic field and naysayers will be predicting a bounce with confidence. But as stated earlier, there's no certainty Arrogate will regress upon his amazing Travers effort.


Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) lacked depth, with top contenders Runhappy and Private Zone being bet down to much lower odds than the rest of the 14-horse field, but the 2016 edition looks to be a more contentious affair. A trio of quality performers were on display last Saturday.

A.P. Indian continued to enhance his credentials with a comfortable 2 ½-length victory in the Forego (G1) at Saratoga, registering a career-best 107 BRIS Speed rating as he improved to 5-for-5 this year for trainer Arnaud Delacour. A two-time listed winner in 2015, the Indian Charlie gelding has discovered his best form at age 6 and is clearly the leading sprinter on the East Coast.

After opening last year with three consecutive wins, Masochistic went off form by the end of summer and wound up finishing last in the Sprint at Keeneland. Trainer Ron Ellis wanted to avoid a similar outcome this season, bringing the 6-year-old gelding back in July, and Masochistic appears to be rounding into top form, registering a career-best 110 BRIS Speed rating for a 3 ¾-length romp in the Pat O’Brien (G1) at Del Mar. His affinity for Santa Anita figures to be an advantage this fall.

Drefong established himself as a serious contender in the King’s Bishop (G1) at Saratoga, rolling to a 3 ¼-length tally in his stakes debut. The late-blooming sophomore colt received a 105 BRIS Speed, the third-consecutive century-topping number, and Drefong has won four straight for Baffert, who is also pointing Bing Crosby (G1) and Triple Bend (G1) hero Lord Nelson to the Sprint.

It’s shaping up to be a dynamite race.

Arrogate photo courtesy of Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography