Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has been clear about his intention to space out races for Juddmonte Farms' Arrogate as the colt begins his 4-year-old campaign. But after the fleet-footed gray threw down a five-furlong bullet in :58 2/5 at Santa Anita Park Dec. 13, fastest of 77 moves that day, Baffert is considering a start that could come sooner rather than later.
Baffert said the 3-year-old son of Unbridled's Song could potentially make his first start of 2017 in the 1 1/16-mile San Pasqual Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 1 at Santa Anita, using that as a prep for the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (gr. I) Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park. A start in the Pegasus would mean a rematch with 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome , whom Arrogate defeated in the Nov. 5 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), after announcing his brilliance to the racing world with a record-setting Travers (gr. I) score.
However, Juddmonte would have to purchase another owner's spot in the starting gate for the Pegasus since they currently do not have one. The race has a unique buy-in structure where 12 owners each paid $1 million to reserve a spot, which funds the race's large purse.
"After that (today's bullet work), that Jan. 1 race (the San Pasqual) might be an option, here at Santa Anita," Baffert said. "The Pegasus is still there. If I wanted to prep him, I could run him there and then run him in the Pegasus.
"With what he did today, I don't know if I can sit on him that long. After today, he's pretty ready."
Baffert said the gray colt worked alone with Martin Garcia aboard, but easily caught up with another group in front of him.
"He's been a handful, so we just let him go and there were some horses who broke off a sixteenth of a mile in front of him," he said. "He was galloping right along and he ended up catching up to them. I didn't think he was going that fast.
"He was pretty impressive... he looks like he's getting stronger."
Despite the bullet, Baffert said the effort took nothing out of Arrogate, who was still a handful back at the barn.
"He just reminded me today how good he really is. When he came back, he was just full of himself, it was like nothing for him," he said.
"He could probably run Saturday. He's so impressive. After retiring American Pharoah , I never dreamt I would be dealing with another horse of his caliber, but this horse is just getting stronger and better every day."