The careers of some racehorses can last for multiple years. For others, the time between their debut and retirement can be much shorter. However, every now and then there are some Thoroughbreds that fall under the latter but at the same time make a place for themselves in the sport's history.
That is precisely what Arrogate did when he was racing.
Campaigned by Juddmonte Farms, this son of 1996 Grade I Florida Derby and Grade II Wood Memorial Stakes winner Unbridled's Song racked up success, albeit quietly, in the early days of his career. It began with a third on debut at Los Alamitos in the spring of 2016, followed by three straight wins against maiden special weight and allowance optional claiming foes between Santa Anita and Del Mar. Following his stint at the seaside, the Bob Baffert colt was sent to Saratoga for the Grade I Travers Stakes, and that was his coming out party.
Sent off as an 11-1 longshot, the gray/roan equine took the lead early in the Midsummer Derby and wowed the fans at the Spa and those watching on television. With Mike Smith (who would ride him the rest of his career) aboard, Arrogate widened his advantage in the stretch while setting a fast pace, coming to the wire by double digits over the runner up to win the Travers in a record 1:59.36. Among the horses he beat that day were Exaggerator, the Preakness winner earlier that spring, and Gun Runner, a future Horse of the Year.
The Travers buzz generated by Arrogate followed him to the Breeders' Cup Classic, where he caught race favorite California Chrome late to make it five consecutive wins to close out the year, netting him the Eclipse Award for Top 3 Year Old Male. In the span of just a couple of months, Arrogate had become the hottest horse in the sport.
His four year old campaign got off to a powerful start. Competing in the inauguaral Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, Arrogate took control turning for home to take the win, adding more than $6 million to his career earnings. Then came the Dubai World Cup, where after a troubled start Arrogate calmly moved up through the field after being relegated to last. He not only made his way to the front, he also won (again beating Gun Runner), becoming the all time leading North American Thoroughbred racehorse in terms of earnings. That ran his record to seven wins in eight starts, and it was still early in the year.
Back in the United States for his next start, he returned to Del Mar for the Grade II San Diego Handicap in July. Long a prep race for the track's marquee event, the Pacific Classic, Arrogate was overwhelmingly expected to go to the winners' circle. Sent off at 1-20 odds, the race delivered one of the most shocking moments in Del Mar history when he was beaten by more than a dozen lengths.
Following that unexpected setback, Arrogate was sent to the Pacific Classic, gaining a much better result in second. Still, questions abounded about him going into his expected title defense in the Breeders' Cup Classic, which was going to be held at Del Mar that fall. Coming off a layoff from the Pacific Classic, Arrogate went for a repeat, but left with a fifth place finish, although it was a better result than the San Diego Handicap.
Whether it was a case of him peaking after the Dubai World Cup, or maybe not taking as much of a liking to the Del Mar track in his second season there, Arrogate did not see the same degree of success following his terrific start to the 2017 season. Retired after the Breeders' Cup Classic, he finished his career with seven wins, a second, and a third in eleven starts with earnings of more than $17 million.
As a new decade approaches, Arrogate is in the early stages of his stallion career. Time will tell as to how it will go, but perhaps he will prove successful in the shed like he did on the track.
His time at the races lasted approximately nineteen months. Though his number of starts were limited, Arrogate put on some amazing performances, and he captured the awe of an untold number of fans. That will likely translate to being remembered long after retirement.