In reeling in champion California Chrome during the stretch of last month's Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), the lanky son of Unbridled's Song let it be known he was already in possession of the raw ability needed to take down a horse who had become a literal world beater.
With just six starts under his belt, Arrogate's Hall of Fame trainer maintains he still sees a horse with some lessons to learn. It is an opinion that has his owners gleefully holding their breath about what they could see in the new year.
While his connections were unsure just how good Arrogate was heading into his stirring Breeders' Cup Classic triumph, they now have the happy problem of wondering how much upside is still to be unearthed as the likely divisional champion readies for his expected 4-year-old campaign. After the gray runner cruised through a solo four-furlong move in :48 flat at Santa Anita Dec. 8, Juddmonte Farms manager Garrett O'Rourke reiterated that a start in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 28 is being given serious consideration, so long as the farm's late-blooming colt keeps up his positive dialogue with trainer Bob Baffert.
"Mentally, Bob feels like (Arrogate) hasn't quite learned how to run yet, and that's an area where he could improve," said O'Rourke, a frightening concept for Arrogate's future rivals. "Obviously, him being such a big horse, he could advance more from 3 to 4 and ... horses like California Chrome definitely improved to become more push-button from 3 to 4 years of age. But equally in the horse business, we know things can go the other way, as well. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves and say there is even further improvement. We are delighted with where we are."
As the owner of one of the nation's top talents, Juddmonte is in the sweet spot of picking and choosing which lucrative prize to shoot for. Though they do not currently own a spot in the gate for the Pegasus World Cup, O'Rourke confirmed several of the race's shareholders have been in contact in an attempt to get the multiple grade I winner into what would be a highly anticipated rematch with California Chrome.
O'Rourke said that while Juddmonte and Baffert are still deciding whether the inaugural running of the World Cup would be the best fit for Arrogate's seasonal bow, there is sentiment to support an initiative that could bring attention to the sport during what is typically a down time of the racing season.
"We're looking at it seriously," O'Rourke said of the Pegasus World Cup. "It is a great idea and anyone that comes up with an idea for a new race like this—and they're trying to make something very, very positive happen in the racing industry in the month of January, when usually nobody is talking about horse racing—it deserves at least consideration for as much support as we could give to it. That's where we are at the moment.
"But we're very aware of the need for the horse to not be over pushed into racing for no other reason than going to the well too often. All things being equal, we would definitely go because we just feel like this is something that obviously has a tremendous reward. It's an idea that you would like to see being supported."
O'Rourke was quick to add that Arrogate himself will ultimately make the call based on his condition. Since debuting at Los Alamitos Race Course April 17—a third-place run which is also his only loss—Arrogate has taken a step forward in each outing and has seemingly bounced out of his Breeders' Cup effort with minimal recovery needed.
"It will take an awful lot to ever match that performance, but I would hope (he will improve)," O'Rourke said. "There doesn't have to be (improvement), but you could say that he hasn't quite possibly fully matured yet.
"Bob says the horse has come out of the race well. We'll have had enough rest since the Breeders' Cup and without anything else that we'd be planning to do at that point in time (around the Pegasus World Cup). But, we've made it clear that we're not going to make any decisions until the horse tells us he is OK. And Bob will tell us what the horse is telling him."
Bred by Clearsky Farms, Arrogate has won five of his six starts, including his record-setting victory in the Travers Stakes (gr. I), and has $4,084,600 in earnings.