In a performance that will no doubt go down in history as one of the most impressive of all time, Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate captured the 2017 Dubai World Cup (GI) at Meydan Racecourse with a jaw-dropping last-to-first rally that left little doubt as to who the best horse in the world is. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith gave the Bob Baffert-trained son of Unbridled’s Song a masterful ride. He never panicked after breaking a bit slowly from the gate and, after a tremendously wide trip throughout, blew past the entire field to win by 2 ½ lengths in a final time of 2:02.15 for the 1 ¼-mile race.
After the race, Smith explained that Arrogate — who had previously proven to prefer running on or near the lead in his seven previous starts — had trouble getting out of the gate because of a miscommunication with an assistant starter. The big, gray colt left post position nine flat-footed and was subsequently squeezed back by rivals Keen Ice to his outside and Furia Cruzada to his inside a few jumps out, forcing him to spot a dozen lengths to the frontrunners the first time past the grandstand.
“I don’t know if the guy misunderstood me, but I said make sure you keep his head straight. And then he got out instead,” Smith said. “My horse just didn’t realize he had to break. But you know what? Things happen for a reason.
“He was slipping and sliding from the word go. Once I got to the outside and he straightened out, he leveled out and I made up five lengths so quick. I thought, ‘OK, we’re here.’ I just tried to be patient and not lose ground. It worked out great. He’s the greatest I’ve ever been on.”
That says a lot considering Smith has been the regular rider for some amazing horses throughout his career, including Arrogate’s sire Unbridled’s Song, the great mare Zenyatta, Songbird, Royal Delta, Holy Bull, Lure, Azeri, Inside Information and many many more.
“It was an extremely incredible performance,” Smith said. “I honestly told myself, ‘You know I rode the great mare Zenyatta,’ and when I got away so bad, I thought ‘you know what buddy, you can do it just like she did’. She used to run from back there and I know he can do anything.
“I had a lot of horse. Bob had a heart attack when he was here last time and I think I had one too! I had to get it pumping again after we got out! I’m just so blessed, God has blessed me so much, to give me a horse like this towards the end of my career is just… I’m lost for words, I’m going to break down and cry. He is the best I have ever been on, he truly is. He is the world’s horse now.”
Arrogate capped off an American trifecta, with Gun Runner checking in second, five lengths in front of Neolithic. Mubtahhij, Awardee, Hoppertunity, Keen Ice, Lani, Apollo Kentucky, Move Up, Long River, Special Fighter, Furia Cruzada and Gold Dream rounded out the order of finish.
“I can’t believe we won. That is a great horse right there,” Baffert said. “It was terrible, terrible, he walked out of the gate. I tell you what: Mike Smith did a great job. He didn’t panic, he just thought, ‘Well I just get him around there.’ Mike Smith, what a job he did. Unbelievable. This is the greatest horse we have 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, it’s unbelievable what he did. I was actually listening to the crowd and everybody was thinking, ‘oh, he has no chance.’ That was an incredible performance. When he turned for home, he started to give and maybe I thought ‘this is it’. He did that. That is the best I have ever seen in my life.”
Arrogate earned $6 million for his lastest win, making him the world’s richest racehorse with a total bankroll of $17,084,600. He won last year’s Travers Stakes (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI), as well as this year’s inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup (GI). He’s won seven of his eight starts, with his lone off-the-board performance coming in his debut at Santa Anita 11 months ago.