Arrogate justifies big Juddmonte spending
Arrogate: $560,000 buy records record-breaking Travers Stakes win
PICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos Arrogate justifies big Juddmonte spending By Nancy Sexton 2:12PM 1 SEP 2016
IN Flintshire, Khalid Abdullah has a horse who epitomises the power of his Juddmonte Farms. He is a son of homebred Dansili, one of a raft of brilliant performers foaled by another homebred in Hasili, and out of Dance Routine, whose family joined Juddmonte through the purchase of her third dam Fleet Girl during the early 1980s.
Juddmonte bred all bar one of the 16 stakes winners under Flintshire's first three dams. This is the kind of Juddmonte animal we have come to expect, whether it be Frankel, Twice Over, Midday, Kingman or Workforce. All are homegrown products and quite regularly are the produce of the operation's own sires.
However, its latest star is quite a different beast.
Arrogate, whose record-breaking 13-and-a-half-length-victory in Saturday's Travers Stakes came on the same Saratoga card as Flintshire's win in the Sword Dancer Stakes, represents a new chapter in Juddmonte's history as a Grade 1 winner purchased at public auction with a specific goal in mind.
Juddmonte Farms paid $560,000 for the colt at the 2014 Keeneland September Sale, making him the second most expensive yearling by Unbridled's Song at that auction.
Juddmonte's power as a breeder does not call for outside investments, especially in Europe, but sporadic yearling purchases have still been made, particularly in the last 15 years. Last October at Tattersalls it parted with 620,000gns for Cheveley Park Stud's Frankel colt out of Heaven Sent and 600,000gns for a Nathaniel half-sister to Sun Chariot Stakes winner Spinning Queen. The Frankel colt is none other than the exciting Seven Heavens, who maintained his unbeaten record at Goodwood on Tuesday.
Juddmonte's current position in America is a little different. The outfit celebrated tremendous success during its association with Bobby Frankel, who conditioned such Juddmonte stars as Aptitude, Cacique, Empire Maker, Exbourne, Skimming and Tinners Way.
Frankel was integral to Juddmonte's success in the US, which is recognised by five Eclipse Awards as leading breeder, and when he lost his battle against leukaemia in November 2009 its American arm was understandably at a crossroads.
"We used to have a lot of horses in California with Bobby Frankel," says Garrett O'Rourke, manager of Juddmonte Farms in Kentucky. "Those numbers dwindled when Bobby was ill and when he died there weren't many to pass on to Bill Mott. The first year, Bill had a few out there for us but then it wasn't really enough for him to justify going out there a second year. Prince Khalid was keen to continue to have horses racing in California and that was when Bob Baffert was hired."
Baffert was hired with the acknowledgement that Juddmonte does not produce in volume the type of dirt horses normally associated with the trainer. Thus came the decision to target that particular type at auction.
As in Europe, the preceding decade had featured sporadic participation from Juddmonte at auction. In 2005 it paid $550,000 for the Touch Gold filly Soothing Touch, a granddaughter of Coup De Genie, and were rewarded when she later bred Grade 1 winner Emollient. A year later it paid $350,000 for the Speightstown colt Lunar Victory, who became a useful handicapper for John Gosden before transferring across the Atlantic to Bill Mott, for whom he finished fourth in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap.
In 2012, however, Juddmonte entered the market more aggressively, paying $1.305 million for four yearlings to go to Baffert led by the $525,000 Elusive Quality colt Pimpernel, subsequently a three-time winner. Another colt, $300,000 purchase Curlin To Mischief, never ran but as a half-brother to Beholder and successful stallion Into Mischief, has been afforded a berth at stud in California.
Another three yearlings worth $1.225m were added in 2013 while Arrogate is the highlight of eight yearlings purchased for a total of $3.18m in 2014.
"They're high-risk but high-reward types," says O'Rourke. "They're horses who will go to California so it's the physical first – the mould that fits the trainer – then you scrutinise the pedigree, and invariably that will guide you on how much you'll have to pay.
"Some looked as though they would go on to be nice horses but were compromised by injuries. Arrogate is the home run.
"He was a lovely horse. There were actually three lovely horses side by side at that consignment [Clearsky Farms]. Two were by Tapit – one, Tathqeef, cost $1.1m and went to John Gosden and the other was [Grade 2 winner] Mohaymen. Bob had won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile with his half-brother New Year's Day so was keen on him. We did bid on him – I think we went to $1.2m – but he ultimately made $2.2m.
"We paid $560,000 for Arrogate. He was bigger than the other two. He's very correct, has great bone and a big rear end. That is something Bob likes – he calls it a sign of gas in the tank. We sent him out to California but he got sore shins and came back to the farm. And I think that break did him the world of good as it allowed him to grow back into his frame."
Arrogate did not make his debut until April when third at Los Alamitos. Since then he has not looked back. The Travers Stakes was his fourth consecutive win and an incredible performance for such an inexperienced horse; bustled out of the gate by Mike Smith, he set quick fractions at the head of the pack and instead of curling up, bounded clear in the straight to win unchallenged from a loaded field that included the Preakness and Belmont Stakes winners Exaggerator and Creator. His winning time of 1min 59.36sec was a track record, shattering the flat two-minute mark set by General Assembly in the 1979 Travers.
"He had a bad draw in one and there was the expectation he'd get dirt in his face," says O'Rourke. "He'd never run in a field greater than six runners before. It was going into unknown territory and a pleasant surprise."
Arrogate pays yet another tribute to his breeder Clearsky Farm, established by County Monaghan-born Eamon Cleary in 2009. Cleary died in 2012 and so sadly did not live to see Clearsky develop into one of Kentucky's premier farms. Arrogate is its fourth stakes winner of 2016 following dual Grade 1 scorer Lord Nelson, Mohaymen and classy juvenile Silvertoni.
Arrogate is also another feather in the cap of his late sire Unbridled's Song, for whom he is a 22nd Grade 1 winner. He is the first foal out of minor stakes winner Bubbler, a Distorted Humor granddaughter of champion American two-year-old Meadow Star bought by Cleary for $170,000 in 2010.
Bubbler's second foal, a yearling filly by Medaglia D'Oro, is catalogued to the upcoming Keeneland September Sale.
Although Juddmonte was home to one of Unbridled's Song's better sons in First Defence, he has been an inconsistent sire of sires.
However, Arrogate's own profile as well as the likely support of Juddmonte's powerful broodmare band will give him every chance of showcasing the sire line in a favourable light when the time comes.
Juddmonte has already struck at this year's US yearling sales, paying $500,000 for an Uncle Mo filly and $450,000 for an Orb filly at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale. Further investment is anticipated at Keeneland this month.
"Prince Khalid enjoys the sales and receiving feedback as to what's there," says O'Rourke. "It's entirely up to the Prince as to whether we buy, but we'll certainly be looking."
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