Arrogate: performance hailed as “incredible” by Bob Baffert
PICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos
By Mark Scully 7:38AM 28 AUG 2016
Report: USA, Saturday
Saratoga: Travers Stakes (Grade 1) 1m2f, dirt, 3yo
ARROGATE (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith) produced a dazzling display to win in the fastest time ever recorded in the race’s 147-year history.
The son of Unbridled’s Song, a $ 560,000 yearling purchase by owner Juddmonte Farms, cut out the running with stablemate American Freedom but turning into the straight, Arrogate scorched clear to score by a remarkable 13½ lengths in a time of 1m 59.36s.
American Freedom stayed on to take second, a length and a half in front of Gun Runner but it was all about Arrogate, who handed Bob Baffert victory in a race in which his star American Pharoah suffered a shock defeat 12 months ago.
“Last year you probably could have poured me out of a shot glass,” Baffert said. “We were pretty dejected. I felt bad for the horse. The horse got beat. He ran hard, he ran his heart out. So we were sitting here and it was just emotional.
“The whole town came out to see him do something like Arrogate did today. We were all looking for that turn for home, cheer up, great end of a movie theme. I’m just glad to be back here with another chance at it.
“And my horse, what he did today is pretty incredible. He looks like a superstar in the making. I think the fans will remember watching a horse like this, because I know, when I see performances like this, they’re very rare.”
‘We ran into a freak’
Arrogate’s victory comes in his first foray into graded stakes company following wins in two optional claimers and a maiden special weight.
Steve Asmussen, trainer of the third placed Gun Runner, was full of praise for the winner. “We ran into a freak today,” he said.
Sky Bet responded to the win by introducing Arrogate to their Breeders’ Cup Classic market at 5-1, with California Chrome heading the market at 7-4.
Also on Saturday
Saratoga: Longines Sword Dancer Stakes (Grade 1) 1m4f, turf, 3yo+
The remarkable Flintshire (Chad Brown/Javier Castellano) notched his fifth Group/Grade 1 success as he sailed to a comfortable victory for the second straight year.
Flintshire travelled powerfully into contention but looked like he could struggle to find an opening turning for home as he was penned in on the rail.
However, the gap came on straightening and the six-year-old powered clear, proving far too good for his rivals as he cleared away to a length and three quarters success.
Money Multiplier took the runner-up honours, with Twilight Eclipse two and three quarters of a length further adrift in third.
Castellano admitted he had been fortunate to get the gap but praised Flintshire’s performance, which guaranteed his spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 5.
“I was very lucky to go and cut through on the rail and accelerate,” the rider said. “He’s a phenomenal horse. I’ve never seen any horse with that much acceleration on the grass.”
Saratoga: Personal Ensign Stakes (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m
Cavorting (Kiaran McLaughlin/Javier Castellano) came out on top in a thrilling four-way finish, securing back-to-back Grade 1s.
The four-year-old got the better of favourite Curalina by half a length, with only a neck further back to Forever Unbridled in third.
“She ran terrific,” said McLaughlin. “Javier got her back and the others went four wide. He saved ground, and I think that was key to the race. That was an important move he made into the first turn.”
Saratoga: Ballerina Stakes (Grade 1) 7f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m
Favourite Carina Mia was unable to succeed as Haveyougoneaway (Tom Morley/John Velazquez) struck late.
The five-year-old mare booked her ticket for the Breeders’ Cup Fillies and Mare Sprint (Dirt) as the race is part of the ‘win and you’re in’ scheme, and gave Morley his first Grade 1 winner.
“She broke well and got in good position,” said Velazquez. “I was just trying to follow Joel Rosario (on Carina Mia). Then, all of a sudden, he took off at the half-mile pole and I sat there and decided to wait. I didn’t want to make a premature move.
“When I asked at the quarter pole, she responded right away.”
Saratoga: Ketel One King’s Bishop Stakes (Grade 1) 7f, dirt, 3yo
Drefong (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith) announced himself as a star when blitzing the field. The colt was into stakes company for the first time but powered clear in the stretch, showing bags of speed.
“I didn’t even hit him,” said Smith. “I just rode him with my hands with my whip down. He ran big today.”
Saratoga: Priority One Jets Forego Stakes (Grade 1) 7f, dirt, 3yo+
A. P. Indian (Arnaud Delacour/Joe Bravo) stopped the clock in a new course-record time of 1m 20.99s with another authoritative display.
The six-year-old made it five from five this season, kicking clear at the top of the straight and leaving his rivals toiling. He now qualifies automatically for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (Dirt).
“It’s really a pleasure to be able to ride a horse like that,” said Bravo. “It just shows the control and different dimensions he possesses. I learned more and more about him after his first race; just getting used to his habits and getting them out of the way.
“The way he did it so relaxed just makes you feel so comfortable. It took him a little time to develop but wow, he’s just enjoying the game.”