Dubai: Bob Baffert, the American Hall-of-Fame trainer who has helped shape the career of Arrogate, the world’s highest rated racehorse and overwhelming favourite to win Saturday’s $10million Dubai World Cup, has thrown down an interesting conundrum for his rivals to solve.
According to Baffert, who has saddled two previous Dubai World Cup winners in Silver Charm (1998) and Captain Steve (2001), Arrogate’s single stride is always equal to two of other horses. This extraordinary quality, coupled with the four-year-old Unbridled’s Song colt’s extraordinary speed and stamina, make him an exception racehorse.
A genetic freak with natural athleticism that has seen him post dominating victories in races like the Travers Stakes (Grade 1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade 1) in 2016 and the $12million Pegasus Cup (Grade 1) at Gulfstream Park in USA, last January.
Bafferet, characteristically attired in a crisp white shirt with rolled up sleeves and brushed blue jeans, held court at Meydan Racecourse on Monday morning to wax lyrical about his latest superstar.
“He’s got an incredible length of stride, probably the longest I have ever seen on a racehorse,” the American, who has also trained champions like American Pharoah, Congaree and Dortmund.
“But he’s also quick. He can get to a horse really, really quick. In the $12 million race (Pegasus Cup) Mike Smith (jockey) actually moved early on his because California Chrome had him pinned in on the backside.
“Victor (Espinoza) want to go but Chrome was taking two strides to Arrogate’s one and he was forced to use up his horse. Once Arrogate caught up the rest was easy.
“He just has these ridiculous set of links and he just doesn’t get tired,” he added.
“You just have to love seeing him and we know what he can do. So I just have to stay focused on keeping him sound and healthy. Once you have a great one like him you just have to maintain him.”
Baffert revealed that Arrogate has settled into the new surroundings at Meydan ‘faster than we expected.’
“It’s a tough task as your flying half way round the world and it’s a long trip from the barns to the track every day,” said Baffert who also saddles Hoppertunity, who was third at Meydan 12 months ago.
“So far they’re handling it well. It’s a good surface. I’m not worried, he’s run on all kinds of surfaces from muddy to good. Most horses, if they’re doing well, then they run well, no matter what the surface.”
Commenting on the opposition Arrogate will face in Saturday’s race Baffert joked: “When we decided to come here we thought, maybe we’ll scare somebody off. But the moment I said yes, everybody joined in!”
Rated 134, Arrogate is the highest rated horse ever to contest the Dubai World Cup. His rivals include Gun Runner, last year’s Louisiana Derby (Grade 2) scorer and Pegasus Cup third and fourth, Neolithic and Keen Ice.
The local challenge is led by Furia Cruzada, the first ever runner for Dubai-based Frenchman Erwan Charpy and Special Fighter, who was fourth 12 months ago and who is trained by Maria Ritchie, who only took out a UAE trainer’s license last month.