08/27/2016 6:21PM

Arrogate wins Travers by 13 1/2 lengths - and a star is born

Barbara D. Livingston
Arrogate, Mike Smith up, sets a track record of 1:59.36 for 1 1/4 miles in the Travers on Saturday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -  As he walked briskly into the post-race interview area at Saratoga, trainer Bob Baffert said: “This is better this year. Why didn’t we do that last year?”

A year after making a similar walk - though with less enthusiasm - following Triple Crown winner American Pharoah’s defeat in the Travers, Baffert floated on air after the previously unheralded Arrogate put on a performance for the ages, winning Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes by a whopping 13 1/2 lengths over stablemate American Freedom. Moreover, Arrogate’s final time of 1:59.36 for 1 1/4 miles was a track record, demolishing the mark of 2:00 set by General Assembly in the 1979 Travers.

“That was ridiculous,” Baffert said.

The win capped a sensational hour for Arrogate’s owner, Juddmonte Farms, which also won the Grade 1, $1 million Sword Dancer Invitational with Flintshire on Saturday. It was also a two-win day for Baffert, who won the Grade 1 King’s Bishop with Drefong.

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But Arrogate eclipsed all performances on a Breeders’ Cup-type card at Saratoga, where 13 3-year-olds went into the starting gate for the 147th Travers but only one will be remembered.

Arrogate, a son of Unbridled’s Song, had never run in a stakes race before Saturday. His three wins coming into this race came against a total of 10 horses. On Aug. 4, he beat two horses in an allowance race, coming from last of three.

When Arrogate drew the rail for the Travers, Baffert knew Mike Smith would have to put him into the race from the outset. Smith hustled Arrogate away from the gate but was third under the wire the first time as American Freedom and Laoban had outbroke him.

But by the time the field entered the first turn, Arrogate was in front, running an opening quarter of 23.23 seconds. The gray locomotive kept rolling at a brisk clip of 46.84 seconds for a half-mile and 1:10.85 for six furlongs while basically in hand.

“So smooth, so strong,” Smith said. “He would look around a lot because he’s so immature. Every time he looked too much I’d say, ‘Hey,’ and, man, he would jump to it.”

Entering the far turn, Arrogate widened his lead and he came to the quarter pole two lengths in front after running a mile in 1:35.52, equaling the second-fastest mile fraction in the history of the race.

Smith said he kept busy on Arrogate in the stretch because he was afraid someone was coming, but no one was in shouting distance as Arrogate came to the wire in front of 48,630 spectators.

Sent off an 11-1 shot, Arrogate returned $25.40 and keyed a Baffert exacta that returned $134.50.

It was Baffert who picked out Arrogate at auction for Juddmonte, which three years ago retained him as their Southern California trainer following the death of Juddmonte’s previous U.S. trainer Bobby Frankel several years earlier. Arrogate brought $560,000 as a yearling.

Rafael Bejarano had ridden Arrogate in his three previous victories, but he also had ridden American Freedom to a victory in the Iowa Derby and a runner-up finish in the Haskell Invitational. Bejarano said owner Gary West wanted him to ride American Freedom.

“I wanted to ride [Arrogate], but there was nothing I could do because the owner wanted me to ride that other horse,” said Bejarano, adding that Arrogate “was much better than the other horses and he loved the distance.”

American Freedom finished a half-length in front of third-place finisher Gun Runner, who finished 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Gift Box in fourth. He was followed, in order, by Governor Malibu, Connect, Creator, My Man Sam, Destin, Forever d’Oro, 5-2 favorite Exaggerator, Laoban, and Anaximandros.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux was on Exaggerator, who he said “was empty before the running started.”

In addition to trying to boost his credentials for the 3-year-old championship, Exaggerator was trying to disprove the notion he is simply a wet-track specialist. He has won three Grade 1’s in the slop this year. His last effort on a fast track was an 11th-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

“I’m not going to scratch my head, I’m going to accept it as racing and I’ll figure out what happened in the ensuing days,” said Keith Desormeaux, trainer of Exaggerator. “I can assure you there’s nothing physically wrong with him. It kind of mimicked his Belmont race. It’s hard for me to accept that it’s all about the track.”

Trainer Steve Asmussen was glad to see Gun Runner bounce back from his fifth-place finish in the Haskell with a respectable third-place showing in the Travers.

“On a dry track we saw Gun Runner is of very high quality,” he said. “It is very comforting to be able to throw out the Haskell.”

Creator, the Belmont Stakes winner, also trained by Asmussen, finished seventh. Asmussen deduced that Creator had the same troubles with the turns at Saratoga as he did at Fair Grounds this winter.

“Saratoga’s probably not for him,” Asmussen said.

They used to say that about Baffert. They weren’t saying it Saturday.


Ray Sousa 5 months ago
Tough one for seasoned bettors to accept . A opc claimer who beat 2 others home in his last race . And had faced nobody before this race .flys halfway across the country and does this . Armstrong would be proud . I say all horse have to be on track a week before these big races and in a detention barn . Otherwise forget it .we can't even trust the big ones anymore.
TEDK215 5 months ago
heres a horse that basically comes out of nowhere and runs faster than Secretariat on what looked like a hand ride? SURE OK!!
Bruce Battaglia 5 months ago
This is what the DRF has turned into.Count me out. It turns my stomach.Who is running what used to be the most respected paper for racing??
Ronald Friedman 5 months ago
In the history of racing around 2 full turns on the east coast and beyond,except California,159:1 is tied for the fastest ever.The other one is Damascus at Aqueduct.
Cara Sobieski 5 months ago
Alysheba won the Meadowlands Cup in 158 4/5.
DoctorDerby 5 months ago
They rarely run 10 panels around two turns. Once a year for males at Saratoga, that's it. Don't get carried away
Mike 5 months ago
Once at Belmont too.
Jyonni Sincere 5 months ago
RIP Exaggerator .  Dry tracks are kryptonite to him 
Esse Em 5 months ago
Great...."Juddmonte" wins $1.35 million in the two feature races on New Yorks biggest day of racing. Did anyone on this board read the 9/11 Commission report? In the pages that they finally released, there is no doubt that Saudi Arabia directly funded the terrorists. These scum enslave women, kill homosexuals and fund terrorism. It was sickening to watch Brown and Baffert surrounded by everyone except the evil "Prince" and his evil sons. If the women standing in the winners circle dared to wear those dresses in Arabia, they would be jailed if not stoned to death. These terrorist pigs should not be allowed to compete at US tracks.
jimbarbaro 5 months ago
What  a sad and nasty comment. Pretty sure gambling is frowned upon by the religious elite as well. Just because someone is from a particular country, it doesn't make them an extremist or a "terrorist." I have worked with many young Saudi doctors in training, and have found them to be often inspiring. I feel sorry for you and the hatred that prevents you from enjoying this truly magnifent performance. But perhaps you are just mad because you threw down a few bucks on the clearly wet track specialist Exaggerator? Well I backed Baffert, and cashed hard. 
jimbarbaro 5 months ago
What a sad and nasty comment Esse. Pretty sure gambling and horse racing are frowned upon by the religious extremists in Saudi. I have had the honor and privelidge of working with many young Saudi doctors in training over the past 5 years. They are often inspiring. Just because someone comes from a particular country, it doesn't make them a rights denying religious extremist or a "terrorist." I feel sorry for you that your hatred prevents you from enjoying this magnificent performance, but perhaps you are only mad because you put a few bucks on Exaggerator, who clearly prefers  off tracks? Well I backed Baffert, and I cashed hard. Maybe I'll take a few of my young hard working Saudi friends and their families out for dinner.
Esse Em 5 months ago
Juddmonte is the Saudi Royal Family.  They supported the 9/11 terrorists directly.  They kill homosexuals.  They enslave women and give them zero rights.  They are evil.  And you'd like to talk about horse racing?  They should not be allowed to race in the US.  Your priorities are a bit out of wack and you seem to have no knowledge of the absolutely devastating conclusions of the completely non-partisan 9/11 Commission.
nicholas 5 months ago
Juddmonte Godolphin Darley and Shadwell are tops in my book they do things the right way treat their employees very well and are a credit to the game---and I would remind everyone that juddmonte and the prince named the best they ever had after a jewish kid from brooklyn--- Frankel
mark 5 months ago
and trump is working with the soviet union to sell out the west so he can do business in russia
nobody talks about trumps alliance with putin to sabotage the american election
talk about traitors 
the guy will get assasinated like wallace did
mark my words
Frank 5 months ago
Mark - you are a blue bleeding liberal turd!  I knew you were an idiot from the get go -- now its confirmed.

Marvin Keene 5 months ago
Why is the guy with the blue shirt standing on the track near the start very nearly in the path of the horses?
Mike Reeves 5 months ago
The starter.
Marvin Keene 5 months ago
Thank you.  When I went to the races as a kid, the starter was always in a little elevated wooden stand in front of the gate but off the track.   I guess they do it differently at Saratoga (or now in general).   Seems a bit dangerous.
Marvin Keene 5 months ago
This might be one of those years when the best three year old gets a late start like 1975 and Wajima who later knocked heads with Forego.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTfOWDWktHE
Marvin Keene 5 months ago
Well.....Ruffian excepted for obvious reasons.
Marvin Keene 5 months ago
I had Arrogate bet to win and place and had him singled in the pick 4 so I was hoping for a good performance, but this effort was historically good.   In reviewing his Cali races, I liked how he finished so quickly and was still striding out at the end of his races--even against short fields of overmatched horses.  I compared this to the rest of the field noting that many of the established three year olds had not taken any significant steps forward since the Spring, were not world beaters to begin with, and might be vulnerable to a new shooter....but this effort by Arrogate was over the top.
Anonymous 5 months ago
of course you did.
I had a Bajillion to win on him and singled him in my pick 12's
Marvin Keene 5 months ago

It is not that big of a deal.  It is not like I cashed a life changing ticket, but sheesh.

Here's proof.


Michael Jacob 5 months ago
They better check his pee. 
Daniel Assmussen 5 months ago
u dont win g1 races off 5horse watered down oclx CA races, not only win but drawing off in the last 8th, in both KB and travers. bb has best chemist $$ can buy. when u watch horses act like those 2 u know something is not right, it visually looks fishy, like when mcgwire and sosa and bonds started to hit 500 ft home runs, something aint right here!! horses dont do that, everybody knows he cheats like hillary lies, he has made a mockery out of the sport, thats why the secretariats and seattle slews of the world and the babe ruths and hank aarons will always be considered the best at what they did!!! baffert is a lieing, cheating CA liberal
JasmineTedesco 5 months ago
Did not know Baffert was a liberal. He is not from California, which in any case had more Romney voters in 2012 than Texas, and his reputation for lying seems to have reached few ears other then yours. I hope you employ a little more knowledge in your handicapping.
JasmineTedesco 5 months ago
They check the top 3 finishers in every race. And when the test comes clean, will you apologize?
Daniel Assmussen 5 months ago
test is clean wink wink nod nod, u green neophyte, baffert gets bad tests all the time and the stewards(police) dont do anything, he gets courtesy call and wiring instructions for payment!!
Daniel Assmussen 5 months ago
by the way,  tracks dont test top 3, most tracks test winner and 1 random (ex: fav that runs off the board) their discretion. stay with me jasmine u will learn more about horse racing in 1 afternoon than what u think u know now