Arrogate Stakes Claim for Leader of Division in Travers Win

Kentucky Derby champ Nyquist's lead in the division is dwindling after Arrogate's strong performance in the Travers (Photo credit: Breeders' Cup Ltd.).

Kentucky Derby champ Nyquist’s lead in the division is dwindling after Arrogate’s strong performance in the Travers (Photo credit: Breeders’ Cup Ltd.).

The Bob Baffert trained Arrogate went from making his stakes debut in the Travers (G1) on Saturday at Saratoga to becoming one of the leaders in the three-year-old division in the matter of two minutes.

Actually it was 1:59.36, the fastest Travers time in the history of the race that goes back nearly 150 years.

So who is the leader of the three-year-old division?

Umm, that’s not a rhetorical question, I have no idea who will win the division once the dust clears after the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in November.

Arrogate hinted at having some serious ability, the $560,000 Keeneland purchase having earned Beyer Speed Figures of 103 and 99 passing his first two allowance conditions.

However, nobody saw a 123 Beyer Speed Figure coming for his Travers win where he drew away to win by 13 ½ lengths.

2016 Travers Stakes Replay

And what is up with these lofty numbers? Frosted earned a 123 Beyer for his Met Mile (G1) win on June 11, the highest Beyer Speed Figure we have seen in a decade, and then a three-year-old matches that 2 ½ months later?

With just one Grade 1 under his belt, Arrogate will have to prove his victory was no fluke in his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

With the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita this year, that means Baffert is more likely to keep him in California, possibly sending him to the Los Alamitos Derby (G2) on Sept. 24 or facing older in the Awesome Again (G1) on Oct. 1 at Santa Anita.

(Update: Baffert now says he will train Arrogate straight up to the Classic).

Nyquist may still have a tenuous lead in the division based on his wins in the Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1), but has lost in his last two starts, a third in the Preakness and a fourth in the Haskell Invitational (G1).

His next start likely will come in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) on Sept. 24.

Exaggerator is going to have to prove he can run over a race track without moisture in it. He has won the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Preakness and Haskell, each over sloppy tracks.

He tossed in duds in the Belmont with an 11th place finish and was a very disappointing 11th in the Travers.

Creator, winner of the Arkansas Derby (G1) and Belmont Stakes had a chance to rebound off his dud in the Jim Dandy (G2) where he was sixth, but he was a disappointing seventh in the Travers.

Gun Runner, Destin and Connect all had a shot to get into the picture but they each came up short in the Travers.

American Freedom, added a second in the Travers to his runner up finish in the Haskell and could still take top honors by winning a race like the Los Alamitos Derby or Pennsylvania Derby (beating Nyquist) and then winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

But after seeing an all-Baffert exacta return a hefty $134.50 a year after Triple Crown winner American Pharoah got upset in the Travers, how this is going to play out is anyone’s guess.


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