Arrogate Sets Track Record with 13 Length Win in Travers
Jockey Mike Smith unleashed Arrogate as they turned for home in the $1.25 million Travers Saturday, and the nearly 50,000 fans at Saratoga and a NBC television crowd were about to witness a riveting finish and track record.
Saturday’s at Saratoga are usually special, but this day became awesome when Arrogate turned in a record time performance to annihilate 12 challengers and win the 147th running of the Travers Stakes. The final time covering 1 ¼ miles was 1:59.36, a track record for the distance and a new Travers record that was set in 1979 by General Assembly.
“He has a stride that is tremendous,” Smith said. “Although we were going quick, he was well within himself.”
Sent off at 11-1, Arrogate moved to the lead at the half mile marker in a brisk 46.84 just ahead of stablemate American Freedom. Those two maintained their position around the far turn for trainer Bob Baffert, who had to be grinning ear to ear as his two horses came down the stretch. Especially the big gray Arrogate, who’s powerful and smooth stride extended the lead and continued his steamroll past the final furlong to win by 13 1/2 lengths.
“I was amazed how he lengthened his stride and opened up,” Smith said.
Arrogate paid $25.40, $12.60 and $8.40. American Freedom was second for $6.70 and $4.60. Gun Runner finished third for a $2 trifecta payoff of $2,028. The $2 exacta paid $134.50.
“We ran into a freak today,” said Steve Asmussen, the trainer of Gun Runner. “He never slowed down.”
Preakness Stakes winner and race favorite Exaggerator was never a factor and failed to fire with his usual closing kick in finishing 11th. Belmont Stakes champion Creator didn’t close either and finished seventh.
“Turning for home, I sat back, and I just thought, wow, he is just what I was hoping he was like, and I knew there was no way they were going to catch him. He was just getting in gear,” Baffert said.
The Midsummer Derby was Baffert’s first Travers win since 2001 with Point Given. Arrogate won his fourth straight race and is 4-for-5. The lightly-raced colt by Unbridled’s Song has been brought along slowly, but he’s clearly special. Arrogate earned an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Classic November 5 at Santa Anita, as the Travers is a ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup race.
Arrogate won’t be overlooked when he returns to the West coast and makes his way to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. A star hit the scene Saturday at Saratoga, and reminded us that patience and preparation can payoff.