An apparatus consisting of interrelated parts with separate functions, used in the performance of some kind of work.
A large, solid-hoofed, herbivorous quadruped, Equus caballus, domesticated since prehistoric times, bred in a number of varieties, and used for carrying or pulling loads, for riding, and for racing.
One of these things is not like the other. So, why is it that in Horse Racing, we all too often forget to remember that even the greatest of Thoroughbred athletes falter at times? How is that we can come to love racehorses so deeply — without realizing that, they too, cannot be expected to remain perfect throughout the course of a career?
It is a tale as old as time — champions win. That’s what champions are expected to do — and sometimes, without us ever really noticing, we begin to visualize them as invincible beings — ones which are incapable of failure.
As long as racing has lived, we have seen horses which were far superior to the opponents of their respective generations, falter a time or two. Man o’ War to Upset… Secretariat to Onion… American Pharoah to Keen Ice… and most recently, Arrogate to Accelerate. And as it is human nature for us to criticize what we clearly do not understand, we begin to question the true caliber of these athletes, moments after they cross the finish line, behind horses which SHOULD have been left in their wake.
But, I am here to ask you to take just a moment — a fraction of your time — and listen to what I have to say. Horses are not machines.
Say it with me… “horses are not machines.”
And because of this, I have struggled with reading the comments which have been posted regarding Arrogate’s lackluster-at-best performance in last weekend’s San Diego Handicap. Yes, the horse didn’t look to be himself. Yes, pilot Mike Smith had to encourage the big gray son of Unbridled’s Song more than he has had to in recent memory. Yes, he was all but eased in the stretch, after displaying virtually no response to any cues throughout the course of the 8.5 furlong race. Collectively, YES, there was something off about the horse we have come to know as “Big A.”
Within minutes, racing fans took to social media to announce that the 4-time G1 winner had been dethroned — that he was a fraudulent champion, as overrated as he has been celebrated. That his chances of achieving year-end honors had been shredded to pieces and carried away on San Diego’s breeze, within the duration of Saturday’s race— 1:42.15 to be exact.
I can’t pretend to be understanding of such rash judgement brought upon any horse. That being said, I find it altogether infuriating, seeing uneducated comments such as these, regarding a champion which has accomplished more in the past year, than any horse in the past two decades by commanding victories in the G1 Travers, G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, G1 Pegasus World Cup, and G1 Dubai World Cup, decisively.
When, as humans — as people who claim to love racing — did we become so swift to turn our backs on a horse like Arrogate? Sure, his performance over the weekend was concerning. I walked away thinking, “What the hell just happened?”
Though it was an unexpected turn of events for him, I can tell you wholeheartedly, I remain free of concern for Arrogate’s future. Had he gutted it out to the wire against the caliber of horses he faced in the San Diego Handicap, and still lost, I would be wracking my brain, pacing the floor, pondering where the great champion may have lost a step. Instead, he never made a move. For all intents and purposes, the horse that is Arrogate was not there on Saturday, which leads me to believe one thing for certain…
He will be back.
He will show up to the Pacific Classic, and he will be primed and ready to run the way the horse we know, runs. I strongly suggest you don’t make comments you will later be in search of, to delete as if they never existed in the first place.
Remember what your mother taught you. It’s fine to speculate what may gave gone awry, but keep your “ArroFRAUD”s to yourself. If you call yourself a Thoroughbred Racing fan, and you’re really taking to social media to downplay the talent and accomplishments of a horse, the only fraud, is you.