Despite finding himself in the last place at the start, Arrogate somehow surged to the front on the final stretch. With a crowd of some 50,000 cheering, the horse ran home for a convincing win this past Saturday at the Dubai World Cup.
With the win in the 2017 Dubai World Cup, Arrogate became the most valuable horse of all time. The horse has now earned $17m, more than any horse before him. Arrogate was followed by two other American horses: Gun Runner and Neolithic.
All the eyes in the stadium, however, were focused on Arrogate and the horse’s jockey Mike Smith. Smith was quick to wrap himself in the Saudi flag as he rode back towards the thousands of cheering fans at Dubai’s Meydan track.
The thoroughbred is owned by Saudi Arabia’s Khalid bin Abdullah and his Juddmonte Farms. The owner’s family celebrated the win and carried the Dubai World Cup off into the night as a light rain starting pouring on the track.
It was the second time it has rained substantially at the Dubai World Cup. The first time was in 1997 when rains turned Dubai’s main track into a muddy thick slop. That year, Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, famously drew his hand over his throat to cancel the show and pushed it back five days later. The United Arab Emirates air force helicopters were deployed to hover over the track and remove the water so that racing could continue.
“I wasn’t worried about the rain or the post-position before the race,” said Bob Baffert, the trainer of Arrogate. “The public announcer said Arrogate was last, and I thought we had lost. I started looking for my other horse [Hoppertunity], but to win like that is an incredible thing.”
“Before the race, I was hoping to set the track record,” Baffert said. Though Arrogate covered the 2,000m of the Dubai World Cup in just 2:02.15, the muddy track would have made any record-breaking effort difficult to achieve. Last year, California Chrome ran the fastest Dubai World Cup ever at the Meydan, finishing the race in 2:01.83.
While Baffert and his team are unsure where the horse will run next, he said that the horse’s Saudi owners would prefer it ran again in the Breeders Cup Classic again next fall.
“We are not sure where we are going next, to be honest. Hey, I’m willing to take a shot at the Melbourne Cup in Australia if they let me run two miles,” Baffert said with a smile.
With horses owned by people from Japan, Uzbekistan, the US, and elsewhere, the event deserved the international title of “Dubai World Cup.” Most years, the Dubai World Cup is billed as the world’s race with the highest prize money. That was not the case this year as the event’s prize money was surpassed by the $12m Pegasus Invitational Cup held in Florida, US, in January. That race was also won by Arrogate.