Arrogate stars in Travers Stakes
Arrogate burst into contention for the Breeders' Cup Classic with a stunning display in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.
Bob Baffert, trainer of Arrogate
Bob Baffert's three-year-old hadn't previously contested a graded race but stunned the Saratoga crowd with a thrilling display in the Grade One 10 furlong contest.
The Unbridled's Song colt destroyed the field to run out a 13 and a half length winner under Mike Smith in a course record time.
Twelve months ago Baffert left Saratoga downcast following the defeat of American Pharoah but the veteran trainer admitted he was delighted to have another shot at the Travers Stakes.
"Last year you probably could have poured me out of a shot glass," Baffert told www.bloodhorse.com.
"We were pretty dejected. I felt bad for the horse. The horse got beat. He ran hard. … He ran his heart out. So we were sitting here and it was just emotional.
"The whole town came out to see him do something like Arrogate did today. We were all looking for that turn for home, cheer up, great end of a movie theme. … 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.
"That was a pretty big jump that he made today," he continued.
"I'm sure that all his (speed figures) and sheet numbers are going to be off the chart. There's no rush. I think that he's the kind of horse that, after what he did today, he could go into the Breeders' Cup fresh like Pharaoh did. I don't think that's a big problem for him."
The victory was the highlight of a big day for owners Juddmonte who also took the Sword Dancer Invitational courtesty of Flintshire and trainer Chad Brown was fulsome in his praise.
"Aaron Gryder did a fabulous job as the pacesetter," Brown said.
"Still, (Flintshire) had trouble in the back. Javier [Castellano] decided to go on the inside and it turned out to be the right decision. I've never seen anything like him outside of Lady Eli. He's the greatest horse I've ever seen."
The six-year-old trailed the field for much of the mile and a half before making his move up in the final turn only to find that he had nowhere to run behind a wall of horses. Then Juddmonte stablemate Inordinate, who set fast fractions, appeared to make a sharp move to his right under Gryder to open up space for the 1/5 favourite.
"I am very lucky and fortunate," Castellano said. "The way I rode this horse, (I tried) to save some ground. Everyone ended up in the same position and I had to make my own decision and use my best judgment and it worked out.
"I was very lucky to go and cut through on the rail and accelerate. He is a phenomenal horse. I've never seen any horse with that much acceleration on the grass."