Arrogate: He's Not What You Think

Arrogate: He’s Not What You Think He Is

ma·chine  /məˈSHēn/
An apparatus consisting of interrelated parts with separate functions, used in the performance of some kind of work.

horse /hôrs/
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.

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – JAN 28: Arrogate #1, ridden by Mike Smith, wins the $12,000,000 Pegasus World Cup Invitational the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Day at Gulfstream Park Race Course on January 28, 2017 in Hallandale Beach, Florida. (Photo by Samantha Bussanich/Eclipse Sportswire)

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.

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Article written by Nicole Schiveley

Chief Creative Officer

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Gayle Reply

    Arrogate has been defeated more than once by Accelerate.So I would not call this a fluke.This horse has not been criticized the way that California Chrome has been vilified by individuals.He has never really taken a beating in the press.

    • John Reply

      Gayle, I believe your facts are incorrect. Arrogate was beat in one of his first races as a 2 yr old, when he first started out. Other than that, he has won every grade 1 race that he’s been in!

  2. Anita Reply

    Great article! Thank you!

  3. Debbie Reply

    Loved your article. I hated seeing so many negative comments about Arrogate. At first I was concerned it may have been injured but when they said after the race that didn’t seem to be an issue….then I knew for whatever reason, he didn’t want to run that day. It’s not that unusual…..don’t we all have days were we just aren’t ‘feeling it’. Wish folks would give him a break. It seems to me there are a lot more haters regarding Arrogate than admirers of his talent & accomplishments. I even had one person basically tell me that I couldn’t be a ‘Chromie’ if I liked Arrogate…..what does one have to do with another, I’m not sure. I didn’t realize you couldn’t like but one horse. The Arrogate that we have come to know will be back in form for the next race, I feel very sure about that!

  4. imperialgirl Reply

    Fraud? No. But he doesn’t belong in the greatest of all time lists unless he turns this around hard and fast. Citing Man o’ War (running from a walk-up start so bad to this day it’s debatable whether the jockey was paid off, yet still he came within a head of winning) Secretariat (running with a fever, deliberately pinned on the inside, and still within a half-length) and Pharoah (coming off a long all-stakes campaign including the Triple Crown and involved in a speed duel that left him vulnerable to a horse who doesn’t get the credit he deserves) is more than a little disingenuous. None of them were coming off absurdly-long layoffs in alleged good health (no one in Arrogate’s camp is claiming he was sick or injured) against a field with horses who genuinely have no business finishing in front of him when you look at the World Cup. This was my problem with him last year–he lost an easy maiden start (behind one of the same horses) and had an extremely easy season so he came into the Classic fresh. Yes, he’s fast and talented, but it still makes things easier when you aren’t running in the spring and don’t go for challenges every time. Chrome ran of HOTY campaign, Arrogate did not, and he’s got to turn this year around, too, with a much busier, tougher schedule. Running months apart and losing to this kind of field is not an argument in his favor. Horses aren’t machines, but they do need to run like one if they want to make any sorts of claims to being like the “tremendous machine” himself. (Honestly the fussy layoffs and his pedigree make me suspicious of his soundness.)

  5. Mike Reply

    Great article! I was more upset at the negative comments regarding Bob and Mike. Two guys destined for the hall of fame. Arrogate will be back and I cannot wait!!!!

  6. John Reply

    Arrogate without a doubt in my eyes is the greatest racehorse I have ever seen. This horse is extremely talented. After breaking track records at Saratoga, beating one of the best horses at the breeders cup, winning the worlds richest horse race and starting dead last and winning the Dubai World Cup, how could you think anything less. So he had a bad day and a bad race, so what! Not every human or animal that competes is always a 100% not by far! He will rebound and will make all you doubters and negative people out there, eat your words! Just watch!!

  7. Dale Reply

    Although I never turned my back on him I never considered Arrogate the G.O.A.T. either. Outstanding race horse yes,but too lightly raced for such high esteem. Man o’ War, Citation,Secretariat and many other greats raced at least as much in their 2 y.o. season as Arrogate in his career (8) so far. I’m not putting him down,I think he has it in him to be as good as any top horse that ever lived but for me anyway,he’ll have to dominate in a few more races.

  8. Diana Levy Reply

    Arrogate is used to GR1 races for $1 million, $6 million, $12 million and $10 million. The San Diego is a $300,000 Gr2. He probably didn’t even realize he was supposed to get out of bed for that kind of money.

  9. Janet B Reply

    Fantastic article! Finally I am hearing a “voice of reason” regarding race horses, instead of all the drivel comments from people who are obviously ignorant and prove it with their comments! Keep up the good work!

  10. Beverly Bonneau Reply

    The people bashing a horse that just doesn’t feel like racing that day or working out that day……do not know horses. They have feelings and they have days when they just don’t even want to lunge or let you saddle them up. They like time off. We just don’t know WHEN that time will be. When a really good horse falls behind I just figure he’s over worked himself and needs turn out time to Find Himself by being a horse. That does wonders for ALL horses. Some days they just say……hell no. AND it’s no big deal. People that BET on favorite horses hate when that happens. So I think you, along with all of us, have to just realize that Horses WILL be horses some days and just won’t feel like getting whopped on the butt and pushed to the Finish line. That does not mean in any way he won’t do just that tomorrow. OR get turned out that day and race around his pasture like a rocket ship. Horses will be horses. If you own horses you know you have to give them some “horse time” if you want a good race from one. Some horses get pushed with no time off. REAL time off to turn out to BE A HORSE. And they rebel. No big deal. They’re only chance of getting out of that box stall and seeing the sun every day is IF they work out. OR race. Some days…..they want more for their buck. I think the most bashed horse was Chrome. Geez. people. He never had a day off until Taylor Made bought in on him. Those bashers were deadly bashers too. I think Arrogate hasn’t had THAT kind of bashing at all. The “he’s done” comments are from what we call Couch Critics. Don’t even read those comments. They just want to get a rise out of you. Arrogate will do just fine. Well, we’ll see in a few day how HAPPY he is in that box stall with no turn out……..won’t we. Even if he says NOPE in the PC………then I KNOW he is in need or REAL turnout time. In a HAPPY paddock somewhere eating REAL greens.

  11. Denise Richardson Reply

    Most great horses have been beat at one time or another. There are so many reasons a horse can be off. The way the race plays out, the weather, just like human athletes, they have off days. Nicole, I love your pieces on Arrogate. I was there when he ran down Chrome in the stretch at the Breeders. He is a great horse, but so is Chrome & others. They are all great horses. If American Pharoah had run as a 4 or 5yr old…who knows what might have happened. These horses are brought along to be 2 & 3yr old runners & retire…not 3 & 4 or 5yr old runners. Racing takes its toll on the bodies of these magnificent creatures. Some are genetically pre-disposed to stand up to the rigours of racing better than others. They have ups & downs. I hope he wins the Breeders, so he goes out on top…however…if it is not to be…it does not take away from his glorious records! In the future we will talk about the greatness of Chrome, Pharoah and Arrogate! I will talk about the also rans, who raced with these guys, because they are also great in their own way! Remember Sham didn’t beat Secretariat but he also broke track records on the same day that Secretariat did. Lest we not forget that in the race to the finish each time with Affirmed & Alydar…Affirmed won the triple crown…but Alydar was the better stud in the breeding shed!!!! I love every one of them, for the magic moments when they give their all to cross the line first.

  12. Mike Reply

    Great article! As you stated, these magnificent creatures are not machines and they certainly are all different in their own way. We will never really know or fully understand what caused Arrogate to no longer want to race again after the Dubai World Cup on March 25, 2017. Until then, he was one of the great super horses of our time. He clearly was never the same again after Dubai. He had a remarkable career. It’s a shame his legacy will be forever tarnished by his last three races (not only did he just finish 4th, 2nd, 5th; he very publicly demonstrated he had no interest in racing anymore). It will forever be one of the great mysteries on what exactly happened to him. All we have is speculation (did the race in Dubai take so much out of him that he never wanted to experience that again, perhaps it was the overseas travel, maybe he just didn’t like the Del Mar track). We will just never know what caused such a rapid and irreversible decline,

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