Arrogate, North America’s richest racehorse, dies at 7

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Arrogate, winner of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic and the champion 3-year-old male that year on his way to becoming North America’s all-time leading money earner, has died. He was seven.

Juddmonte Farms said Arrogate was euthanized Tuesday after becoming ill. The Lexington, Kentucky, breeding farm said it was unclear what the illness was and a necropsy is planned.

Juddmonte said Arrogate had been having a successful breeding season until last week when it was suspended because of what was initially suspected to be a sore neck. Days later, he fell in his stall and efforts to get him back up were unsuccessful. He was taken to an animal hospital in Lexington for tests.

“Unfortunately, Arrogate was still unable to stand after four exhausting days for him,” Juddmonte said in a statement. “His will to fight, so valuable to him on the racetrack, became a challenge in his care. When serious secondary health issues set in, the decision was made to put him to sleep.”

Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Arrogate had seven wins in 11 career starts and earnings of $17,422,600, making him North America’s all-time richest thoroughbred.

Arrogate was bred in Kentucky and purchased for $560,000 by Juddmonte Farms, the racing operation of Prince Khalid bin Abdullah, a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family. As a yearling, Arrogate’s front teeth were knocked back, likely the result of being kicked by another horse. One tooth became infected and removed, which had little impact.

After starting his racing career in California under Baffert, Arrogate traveled east to Saratoga in 2016 and took a major step up in class. He made his stakes debut against Preakness winner Exaggerator and Belmont winner Creator in the Travers.

Arrogate blew away the competition, winning by 13 1/2 lengths and smashing the track record with a time of 1:59.36 for 1 1/4 miles, fastest in the race’s 147-year history.

The gray colt followed with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, overtaking California Chrome in the final furlongs to win by a half-length. Arrogate earned an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male. To begin his 4-year-old season, Arrogate won the 2017 Pegasus World Cup against two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome in another track record at Gulfstream, followed by a win in the Dubai World Cup against a field that included Gun Runner.

“It takes a lot to make me cry, but I cried this morning when I heard the news,” Baffert said from his base at Santa Anita in California. “I’ve never had a horse that threw in four magical races in a row that were off the charts. He was just brilliant.”

Baffert has long regarded 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat as the standard bearer for great horses.

“I would’ve thrown Arrogate against that horse,” he said. “I would never say that at the time, it’s sacrilegious, but believe me, he was that kind of horse.”

After returning to the U.S. from Dubai, however, Arrogate suffered three straight losses and was retired. “He just didn’t want to run,” Baffert said.

Despite having only four stakes victories, the large purses for those wins allowed him to become the all-time leading money winner in North America.

Baffert recalled that Arrogate wasn’t injured during his racing career.

“He was like iron,” the trainer said. “I couldn’t get that horse tired. He was never blowing (after a race), he would just take a deep breath. Even in Dubai, he came back like it was nothing.”

Baffert and his wife, Jill, were unable to make their pre-Kentucky Derby pilgrimage to Lexington to visit Arrogate and Baffert’s other top retired stars this year because the race was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. But Arrogate sired three crops at stud, and Baffert is looking forward to seeing his offspring.

“I really believed in that horse,” he said. “I bred my own mares to him.”

Douglas Erskine Crum, CEO of Juddmonte Group, said, “His physical and personality traits are passing very strongly to his offspring.”

Pegasus races planned for Gulfstream and Santa Anita in 2024

Horse racing on Opening day of the winter-spring meet at Santa Anita Park.
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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After seven Pegasus World Cup events, it’s evidently time for change.

1/ST Racing, which has hosted the entirety of the Pegasus series to this point at Gulfstream Park, is planning for two Pegasus days in 2024 – one at Gulfstream and the other at Santa Anita. Details aren’t finalized and it’s unclear how it would fit in the racing calendar, but 1/ST is planning for both dirt and turf Pegasus races as part of the Santa Anita program.

Gulfstream played host to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on the dirt Saturday, along with the $1 million Pegasus Turf and the $500,000 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf.

“I’d really love to see that we bring it to the West Coast,” 1/ST President and CEO Belinda Stronach said. “That will probably happen in 2024. What we did this year for 2023 was said, `OK, we have a number of great race days, let’s coordinate those better and call it the 1/ST Racing Tour and recognize great achievements within our own footprint.”

Saturday marked the first stop on that new 1/ST Racing Tour. Along with some of the biggest race days at 1/ST tracks – like Florida Derby day at Gulfstream on April 1, Santa Anita Derby day on April 8 and the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 20 – there are a pair of days where the tour will be running simultaneously.

This coming Saturday, Gulfstream will play host to the Holy Bull while Santa Anita has the Robert B. Lewis – both of them Kentucky Derby prep races.

And on March 4, Gulfstream has the Fountain of Youth, another major Derby prep, while San Anita has the Big Cap. Plans call for coordinated post times at those two tracks on those days to provide the best racing action every 20 minutes, as well as some unique betting options.

“We can never rest on our laurels,” Stronach said. “We have to keep moving forward. We have a great team that’s really committed.”

The main Pegasus race is one of the biggest-paying races in North America. Art Collector claimed about $1.8 million from a $3 million purse with his win on Saturday. In 2022, only the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf featured bigger prizes among U.S. races, and the $3 million Pegasus purse is equal to the one offered last year at the Kentucky Derby.

Regardless of what happens with the Santa Anita plan for future Pegasus events, Stronach insisted Gulfstream will continue having Pegasus days. There has even been talk about Gulfstream playing host to Breeders’ Cup races again, something that hasn’t happened since 1999.

“This is staying here in Miami,” Stronach said. “Pegasus has a home here in Miami. We can’t move Pegasus from Miami. We have great partners here and it’s more than just a day now. We have deep roots here in Miami.”

Trainer Bob Baffert’s ban from racing in New York is over

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Bob Baffert can once again enter horses at New York’s major tracks.

The Hall of Fame trainer’s one-year ban by the New York Racing Association ended Wednesday, allowing him to enter horses as soon as Thursday.

“I was disappointed they even did it, but it’s water under the bridge,” Baffert told The Associated Press by phone.

He was suspended last June for repeated medication violations, although none of them occurred in New York. He was barred from Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. A panel credited Baffert for time served for an initial suspension, which allowed him to return this week.

Aqueduct is currently holding its 44-day winter meet that runs through March 26. Baffert doesn’t typically run horses this time of year in New York; he targets the biggest stakes races at Belmont in the spring and Saratoga in the summer.

Baffert remains under a two-year ban by Churchill Downs Inc., which sidelined him after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a substance that is not allowed on race day. The penalty expires shortly after the Kentucky Derby in May. However, Baffert is fighting the suspension in federal court.

The Southern California-based trainer has a big weekend coming up around the country, although not in New York.

He has horses running at three tracks on Saturday.

Defunded is entered in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream in Florida, where Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes will be on hand.

Arabian Knight goes into the $750,000 Southwest Stakes as the early favorite at Oaklawn in Arkansas. Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby prep race a record-tying five times and will travel to Hot Springs to watch the 3-year-old colt.

“It’s going to be a good test for him. The only way to find out is to run him long,” he said. “It’s going to take a superior horse to do that and I’m hoping that he is.”

The Southwest offers Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top five finishers. Arabian Knight won’t receive any points regardless of his placing because of Baffert’s Derby ban.

Hopper will run in the $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.

On Sunday at the same track, Baffert has entered four of the five horses set to run in the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds.