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.”

Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance

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NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.

“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”

Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.

Judge grants Churchill Downs’ request for summary judgment to dismiss Bob Baffert’s lawsuit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”

Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.

The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.

Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.

It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”

Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.