Forget flowers, candy and the like. On the day that is all about expressions of appreciation, Juddmonte Farms' champion colt Arrogate gave his Hall of Fame trainer an injection of the joy that comes only from conditioning a horse with effortless brilliance.
In his first timed workout since his sublime triumph in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 28, the gray beast that is Arrogate went about his business Feb. 14 in his usual handy fashion, covering four furlongs solo in :48 3/5 at Santa Anita Park.
With Martin Garcia in the irons, Arrogate "just galloped around there" according to Baffert, in what was termed an easy half mile for the horse who makes pretty much all his on-track outings look routine.
"He looked good. It was just a maintenance half," Baffert said. "He didn't do much for him. We didn't let him go out too strong today ... but he looked great. He looks like he's held his weight. He's healthy, he's happy, his color is good.
"He's just a horse who is so talented and so gifted, I can't believe it. And he's getting better, that's the most important thing."
Seeing Arrogate bounce out of his 4 3/4-length win in the Pegasus with his form intact is par for the course where the son of Unbridled's Song is concerned. That he maintains his condition at such a high level is another check mark on the list of intangibles that make the 2016 champion 3-year-old male the exceptional talent he is.
Baffert said the colt's oft-interrupted workout schedule heading into the Pegasus World Cup wasn't exactly the dream lead-in for the track-record setting performance he ultimately delivered.
"We've been working around with all the rain we've been getting (in California) and ... I still can't believe we were able to make it," Baffert said of the Pegasus. "We didn't go into that big race with an ideal scenario but still managed to pull it off. But it was a little nerve wracking."
Where Arrogate brings his talents next is still being determined. In the aftermath of his Pegasus triumph, a potential trip to the $10 million Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) in March was put back on the table. Baffert stated Tuesday all options are open so long as the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner himself signs off.
"You know, right now we were waiting to see how he worked, and see how he works again. We have the Big 'Cap (grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 11) here, that's an option," Baffert said. "Everything is an option. Right now, nothing is ruled out but nothing is for sure.
"Basically we let the horse dictate how he's doing. He sure looked like the best horse in the world today, so everything is good."
Arrogate has won six of seven career starts, including his record-setting triumph in last year's Travers Stakes (G1), and has $11,084,600 in earnings.
Baffert added that unbeaten grade 1 winner Mastery and Sham Stakes (G3) runner-up American Anthem both emerged from their Monday workouts in good order and that he would likely keep one home for the March 11 San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita and ship the other to Oaklawn Park for the March 18 Rebel Stakes (G2).