Arrogate runs to his training with powerful Classic finish

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TwinSpires Staff

November 10th, 2016


Wouldn’t it be great if we had the same information every day that we get on the Breeders’ Cup races? A couple of examples.

I had a strong opinion on BEHOLDER (Henny Hughes) in the Distaff. Forget the Pacific Classic (G1) when she was outrun by CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit), I thought her two losses against STELLAR WIND (Curlin) were circumstantial and not evidence she was slowing down or not as good as her talented rival.

In both races, Beholder wound up in a spot where she was being chased and was run down late by Stellar Wind. That is not her preferred running style but that is what happened. In her previous race, a neck second in the October 1 Zenyatta (G1), there was no chance Dick Mandella had her cranked 100% with the Distaff coming up so getting beat was also not a big deal. 

When the money was on the line, an outside post, and speed to her inside, it looked to me that we would see the old Beholder even though she would have to get by the undefeated SONGBIRD (Unbridled’s Song). Beholder was up to the task, barely, and got her nose down at the wire at the right time. Songbird was brilliant and laid bare the folly of only relying on speed figures and not the race circumstances in which they were earned.

Every day we will see a horse that was run down and assume it will happen again but if we knew as much as we knew about the Distaff, we might come to a different conclusion. If you follow one racing circuit and do not get distracted by racing from all over the country, you have a better chance.

Workouts get published and we even get a ranking of how the horse did that day compared to all the other horses that worked that day at that distance. Still, astute workout observers are looking for more things than the final time so we either don’t know how the horse worked or we have to rely on others for their impressions.

For the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup, we get much more evidence including high-quality videos of the workouts in the morning. This is what I wrote in my analysis of the Classic (G1): 

It’s hard to believe, and I never thought I would say this, but ARROGATE’s six-furlong workout last week here was better than anything I ever saw Triple Crown winner AMERICAN PHAROAH do. It was that good.

The spitting image of his sire, UNBRIDLED’S SONG, he doesn’t look like the Ferrari that American Pharoah was but a stretch limousine. His stride is enormous and he gets over the ground as good as anyone. Clearly, his monster effort in the Travers Stakes (G1) has not taken anything out of him and it is scary to think that he could be moving forward.

Yes, that big stride could get compromised if someone were to be in front of him and tap on the brakes but once he drew post ten, he should get the perfect stalking trip outside of CALIFORNIA CHROME, who has been ridden very aggressively lately, and should be on the lead. He is fast enough to gain position with the long run to the first turn and if Espinoza doesn’t ride California Chrome, it would not surprise me if Smith puts Arrogate on the lead and just keeps throwing 23 and change quarter-miles at the field.

Arrogate’s “A” game is better than anyone in here by far and his recent workouts show he sitting on another gigantic effort off a ten-week rest.

As talented as I thought Arrogate was, when California Chrome was loose on an easy lead down the backstretch, it looked like Arrogate might not be good enough no matter how well he was training.

But Mike Smith got Arrogate into position turning for home and set sail after California Chrome. The race we were hoping for was on and Victor Espinoza finally stopped looking around and set California Chrome down. Smith resisted the trap of going inside and began to cut into the margin on the outside. When the two were running at full speed, it looked like Arrogate took nine strides for every ten of California Chrome.

With a sixteenth of a mile to go, California Chrome had a three-quarter length lead but Arrogate was relentless and turned the deficit into the final margin of victory. Like Songbird, there was no disgrace in running second, just disappointment at running your race and it not being good enough.

Arrogate’s final time was 2:00.11 as he covered his final quarter in 24.15 seconds. According to Trakus, he ran 17 feet farther than California Chrome but it mattered little. Arrogate earned a BRIS Speed rating of 115, down from the 124 he earned in the Travers so he might have bounced some but was still good enough to win. California Chrome also received a 115 BRIS Speed rating, a career best. He was great but not great enough.

All you had to do is watch Arrogate’s workouts on video to know what was coming in the final quarter mile.