Dubai: Conceivably, Arrogate could be the most outstanding winner of the $10million Dubai World Cup in its 22-year history.
Anyone who was at Mayedan Racecourse on Saturday evening, or watched footage of his remarkable win, will probably concur.
Here are some of the many factors that have influenced my assessment.
Firstly, Arrogate had to race from one of the lesser favourable outside stalls. In fact he drew stall nine in the 13-horse field, a barrier which was yet to produce a winner of the 2000 metre contest.
Secondly, this was one of the stronger fields, with several horses capable of posing a threat to the American star if he did not bring his A game on the day.
Throw in a dirt track at Meydan that was extremely heavy following overnight rain and intermittent showers, and which only receded a few hours before the start of the nine-race meeting.
And last but not least, Arrogate missed the start after being spooked by a stall handler before losing his footing on the wet track when his jockey, Mike Smith, checked him to avoid what would have been a catastrophic collision with Keen Ice and Furia Crusada.
Only an outstanding champion, and a very versatile horse, could have overcome all these factors, to come from last-to-first and win the race by two and a quarter lengths.
It was a remarkable performance from a remarkable horse who has now banked a record $17,084,600 to become the highest earner in American racing.
To put that in perspective, he eclipsed last year’s Dubai World Cup winner California Chrome, who retired with earnings of $14,752,650.
Arrogate also overtook the two highest-earning Japanese champions Oeuvre and Gentledonna, who earned $15,200,084 and $15,247,643, respectively.
Even Bob Baffert, Arrogate’s handler who is no stranger to training champion, having been responsible for preparing American Pharaoh to win the American Triple, was gob-smacked with what he saw and said: “This is the greatest horse we’ve seen since Secretariat. Unbelievable. When I was watching it I thought ‘I hope Mike takes care of him.’ Maybe I shouldn’t have come here.
“I was actually listening to the crowd and everyone was thinking ‘oh, he has no chance.’ That was an incredible performance. That is the best I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Earlier in the week Baffert described Arrogate as a horse with an extraordinary length of stride and ‘ridiculously huge lungs’. We now know that he has an incredibly big heart as well.
However, one can’t ignore the role Arrogate’s jockey, the incomparable Mike Smith, played in this most fairytale of triumphs in diversity.
Smith’s composure following the early impediments in the race and the tactical brilliance that he exhibited by nurturing his mount back into the race and the way that he began to pick off one horse after another before allowing him to use his prodigious stride to leave his rivals for dead, and cross the line with the most outrageous ease.
Cigar and Dubai Millennium were great winners of this race, but perhaps, Arrogate on Saturday showed that he is a cut above all previous 21 winners of the Dubai World Cup.