Arrogate raced exactly as planned. I truly hope Baffert and friends made a flat $20 million gambling over the past three races he couldn’t possibly win. That would equal about everything he made in horse racing over the past 40 years, with the exception that the Arrogate pool money is tax-free.
(Please! Don’t start with your naive bullshit that nobody would bet against Arrogate intentionally in a $6 million race. Consult D. Wayne Lukas and the score they made when Thunder Gulch won the Ky Derby, as the two Lukas faves were also-rans. Many reports have London bookies getting banged for more than $5 million in that one race.)
Last Thursday morning, Arrogate took to the track at Del Mar. After watching the first five seconds or so, I didn’t think he’d make it around the track without being vanned off. He looked exactly the way he looked when the gate opened on Saturday afternoon in the Breeders Cup Classic.
Then, Bob Baffert (again) declared how “great” he looked.
Bob Baffert and company must have been creaming their jeans as the numb nuts were shaking their heads in agreement.
If one can watch that Thursday morning move and not know Arrogate didn’t have a prayer of hitting the board they should stop pretending they know how Thoroughbreds (great, world-class, Thoroughbreds) should appear, and go make a legitimate living as a Congressman or comedian.
This has been going on for years in big races. Ironically everyone knows in a beaten $5,000 claimer there’s “business” every race.
Yet, intelligent people cannot believe it happens in a $6 million race. “Think” again. There was probably $75 million bet on this race, legally and illegally worldwide. Much in parimutuel pools and much through legal and illegal bookmakers. Just in the Del Mar pools, there was $7,522,411 in the win, place and show pools and $22 million in the gimmicks, for a grand total of $30 million.
Arrogate began and ended his career with a loss. He began making insiders money on another day of Baffert uncoupled entries. In the Travers when the horse first showed his world-class speed at 11.70-to1. He ran a lifetime top 122 Beyer and won by 13. In that race, Baffert was touting his other horse who went off about 5-1. Do you really think Baffert is a buffoon?
One can only guess that Baffert is just constantly “surprised” by this horse – win or lose. Wink, wink.
Arrogate got good at exactly the right moment. He was under wraps in the three races Ralphie Bejarano rode and won with him against maidens and classified allowance horses as the heavy chalk.
On June 14, 2016, Bejarano only by five lengths but got a thorough reaming from Baffert for showing a 103 Beyer. In his next start, he jogged home in a never-won-two-other in a 99.
Then the Saratoga score!
His next start was deceiving. He couldn’t keep up with an about-to-retire California Chrome for 1990 meters, before lunging at the wire to get up in the Breeders Cup Classic. He beat a wonderful champion.
In his next start, he was odds-on to win a mint in the Pegasus at Gulfstream. He won. He beat the “memorable” and “sensational” duo of Shaman Ghost and Neolithic. (Two horses that nobody including their owners will remember in 2022.)
They say “money can’t buy you love.” Obviously, it can’t buy a great field of horses on some days.
Then on to Dubai. There’s no betting at Meydan but I can assure you Arrogate paid $3 or less in pools worldwide. He got left at the gate – with no shot to win – and still was able to forge a long sustained move to win in 2:02.15. That’s slower than the track record set in 2016 by California Chrome.
Arrogate’s winning streak is very similar to the Perfect Storm in reverse. In that true story, a number of low-pressure systems merged to form one of the worst possible scenarios for the skipper and his crew stuck in the middle of the ocean. Arrogate earned his money on the square. It’s just he got good during a 30-week period when the all-time purse distribution was about to be passed out. He got lucky in that he was alone, unlike Easy Goer and Sunday Silence or Affirmed and Alydar.
After Dubai, Arrogate was a new horse. As the Baffert testimonials became more like sermons, I was amazed at how average Arrogate was looking in his drills – even the “bullet” works. “Time,” as they say, “only counts in prison.” Arrogate’s body attitude had changed. He wasn’t galloping, he was skipping along. Changing leads every few hundred meters, head cocked sharply to the right. At times he’d drop he his head, a good sign in most cases. But not when you drop it and cock it hard to the left. And a slight limp in his stride began to show when he was walking . . .
Like Songbird, who couldn’t possibly do anything but retire after being life-and-death in a glorified stake test against claimers this summer, she did not have the luxury of avoiding the winner’s circle as Arrogate has.
Songbird stood there, eyes squinting, wincing in pain. Up with the left hind, then shifting up with the right. Juggling weight, sweating profusely (albeit extremely hot and steamy out), and surrounded by her trainer, owners, and stable hands. Nobody noticed? I mentioned it repeatedly and was admonished by 100 percent of those who watched exactly the same race and the same winner’s circle presentation that I did.
That didn’t stop Songbird from racing on, either. She promptly retired after her next dud. The surgeon’s statement was precisely what I had been mentioning for weeks, including from the day in that winner’s circle.
It seems if it looks like a champ, sounds like a champ, smells like a champ and the trainer lies like a champ — the public wants to believe and can’t wait to empty out. Moreover, it doesn’t matter if they couldn’t do their laundry on Sunday, July 23, Sunday, August 20 and today, they still await Baffert’s next tip. And, he’s been tipping them on to the loser all the way back to when he was training Quarter Horses on the Arizona-Mexican border.
Bob Baffert is not the best trainer who ever lived. He is the smartest – bar none. Look at the barn and owners he has amassed. Look at the payoffs of the winners and losers – often the same horse like Arrogate. As a trainer, Baffert has made only $10 million – day rate and commissions combined.
Always – that’s a-l-w-a-y-s – look to beat every favorite. Two-thirds of them lose. But if you can beat an Arrogate or a Songbird and have the ammunition to play Pic-3, Pic-4, Pic-5 and Pic-6 tickets, you could end up with millions.
Back to the “smart money.” Arrogate was the chalk. He was favored in all the pools, except place and show.
By the way, there was one other pool Arrogate wasn’t the favorite. The pool where the big money bets:
Gun Runner was the chalk to win in the Pick 6 pool, returning $388,423.60.