Arrogate handed Bob Baffert a stunning success in the race in which his star American Pharoah suffered a shock defeat 12 months earlier.
The three-year-old was being tested in graded company for the first time, and shot the opposition to pieces in winning the Travers Stakes in the fastest time ever recorded for the race, and in doing so, shattering the Saratoga track record.
Sent to the front, and setting a searching pace, he never looked in any danger, and scorched clear turning for home, winning by a yawning 13 and a half lengths. Mike Smith had his work cut-out to pull up the winner, proving just how much remained in the tank of this exciting youngster.
“Last year you probably could have poured me out of a shot glass,” Baffert recalled. “We were pretty dejected. I felt bad for the horse. He ran hard, he ran his heart out. The whole town came out to see him do something like Arrogate did today. 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.”
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. Those odds could prove pretty generous come November.
On the same card, a more established Juddmonte Farms star, Flintshire, completed back to back victories in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes. Held up at the rear for much of the race, he cruised into contention approaching the final turn, before Castellano, much to his relief, found a gap on the rail. The jockey asked his mount to make his move, and the race was quickly put to bed.
Castellano was full of praise for his outstanding ally, with the success sealing his place 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.”
First or second in all bar one of his last 13 starts, and 10 of those being at Grade/Group 1 level, Chad Brown’s six-year-old has become something of an international phenomenon. He’s been runner-up in two Arcs, a Breeders’ Cup Turf and a Hong Kong Vase, and has become a model of consistency at the highest level. He’s sure to go close in November at Santa Anita, regardless of the opposition.
Whilst the radar was set on the Breeders’ Cup over the pond, on this side of the Atlantic, many have their sights on Ascot’s Qipco British Champions Day in October.
On Saturday at Goodwood, Lightning Spear finally put in a performance worthy of the praise he had been adorned by his trainer David Simcock. Always highly thought of, he came with a withering late burst to win the Celebration Mile. He’d run a cracker earlier in the campaign, when a close third to Tepin in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot. A return to Ascot for the QEII now looks a realistic target, for which he is best priced 16/1.
Speaking to Channel Four Racing after the victory, Simcock said: “That's a massive relief, honestly. We've always thought the world of him and he was brilliantly nurtured by Olly Stevens. We've just picked up the pieces. We were so pleased with his first start in the Queen Anne and watching his last two races you wouldn't believe it and you feel sorry for the horse as he's very, very good. I'm not one to hype horses and I think he's really talented. He's got a really good turn of foot. Everything is aimed towards Ascot now and we'll have a really good go at the QEII.”
As we approach September, those end of season targets are coming around at pace. The Arc meeting at Chantilly is only a month away. We have little more than six weeks to wait for the British Champions Day at Ascot. And then it will be the turn of Santa Anita to play host to the Breeders’ Cup. Exciting times lie ahead.