Juddmonte on the hunt for another US star
Arrogate: was bought by Juddmonte in 2014 for $560,000
PICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos Juddmonte on the hunt for another US star
By Michele MacDonald in Kentucky 8:00PM 13 SEP 2016
LOOKING for the next colt with the ability and stallion potential of brilliant Travers Stakes winner Arrogate, Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms jumped back into the upper echelon of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale with trainer Bob Baffert during the opening session on Monday.
Their first selection in the 2016 edition of the world's largest yearling marketplace turned out to be another grey colt with a massive hind end, characteristics for which Arrogate is known.
Offered as hip 174, the son of leading American sire Tapit is the third foal of multiple Grade 2 winner and Grade 1-placed Amen Hallelujah, by Montbrook, and was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency for Town and Country Farms.
"He's a nice colt – he has a great pedigree, by a top sire and out of a really good race mare. If he runs to his pedigree and his looks, he'll be good," said Juddmonte's North American manager, Garrett O'Rourke, who signed the $600,000 ticket while flanked by the operation's president, Dr. John Chandler, and by European racing manager Lord Grimthorpe.
O'Rourke said Juddmonte's American staff, Baffert and bloodstock agent Donato Lanni combine forces while searching for prospects at Keeneland, with their ultimate goal to pinpoint a Classic-type runner who can win the Kentucky Derby.
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"Bob and Donato look at everything, and we look at everything, and we just sit down and I know what will suit our programme. Bob's the one who has to train them, so he has the choice on physicals. We can make suggestions but he's got the ultimate call from the physical point of view," O'Rourke said.
Arrogate has been the standout of the Juddmonte-Baffert buying programme, which began in 2012. The son of Unbridled's Song out of Bubbler, a granddaughter of champion filly Meadow Star, was acquired for $560,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September Sale.
Although Juddmonte and Baffert took their time with Arrogate and he did not make the Classics this year, he is undefeated since his maiden win in June and ran the fastest Travers in the race's 147-year history with 1min 59.36sec for ten furlongs.
Of Juddmonte's objectives, O'Rourke said: "Ideally, when we're looking for colts, you'd love to get a [Kentucky] Derby horse, and Bob's been the best Derby trainer in recent times, so that's what the programme was built around.
"If you can come up with that kind of horse, and you're buying Tapits and Unbridled's Songs, you invariably also have a potential stallion who would be very much in demand, and that's where it all fits together."
"It's just a matter of quality," he continued. "We run [potential purchases] by Prince Khalid and get our instructions from there."
Abdullah has been very involved with the programme, O'Rourke added. The prince wanted to have a presence in California racing, where Baffert is based, as he had so successfully maintained during his association with the late Bobby Frankel, and he also has been keen to win US Classic races. Juddmonte breeds primarily for turf racing in Europe.
From 2012 through 2015, Juddmonte bought 20 yearlings – all colts except a Tapit filly who now is a member of the farm's broodmare band – for the programme at a total cost of $7,690,000.
O'Rourke emphasised how much Arrogate, who is being aimed at the Breeders' Cup Classic, has meant to the programme.
He said: "It's a great game in that one horse can make the whole event for us.
"We'd obviously bought some nice horses in the past but had had some bad luck, as everyone does. It's not just the good judgement you need when you come to the sales – you have to be lucky.
"We definitely got very lucky with how good [Arrogate] is; no-one can guess how good they're going to be. You can hope, but when they're that good, you feel a bit lucky as well."
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