Arrogate, one of the most brilliant horses to grace American racing of the recent era, has died in Kentucky aged just seven.

The son of Unbridled’s Song, who had been standing his third season at his owner’s Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms in Kentucky, developed an illness last week that necessitated euthanasia. A post mortem will be carried out to determine the exact cause of death.

Juddmonte Farms confirmed the sad news in a press release in which they outlined the efforts made to save the horse.

It read: “Arrogate had a very successful breeding season this year until last week when his breeding was suspended due to an initial suspected sore neck. Later in the week, he fell to the ground in his stall and efforts to get him back up proved unsuccessful. He was transported to the Hagyard Clinic under the care of Dr. Bob Hunt and Dr. Nathan Slovis with Dr. Steve Reed representing the insurance company.

“They worked tirelessly with the staff from the Hagyard Clinic eliminating all the obvious causes and performing all available tests, including spinal tap evaluation, x-ray, ultrasound, CT Scan and many blood tests.

“Unfortunately, Arrogate was still unable to stand after four exhausting days for him. His will to fight, so valuable to him on the racetrack, became a challenge in his care. When serious secondary health issues set in, the decision was made to put him to sleep.”

Douglas Erskine Crum, CEO of the Juddmonte Group, commented: “This is very hard on everyone at Juddmonte, most especially on Steve Dotsey, Stallion Manager, and Jorge Chavarria who cared for Arrogate daily and who had such a great rapport with him.

“It was a bold decision to ask Bob Baffert to purchase and train top dirt horses for Prince Khalid and, assisted by Donato Lanni, the selection of Arrogate was one of the success stories of the decade on the racetrack. Arrogate has bred three crops at stud, has his first yearlings to present to the sales this year and his physical and personality traits are passing very strongly to his offspring.”

“This is very hard on everyone at Juddmonte”

A relentlessly powerful galloper, Arrogate won the hearts of racegoers during his two seasons racing for Bob Baffert with a series of outstanding displays under his regular pilot Mike Smith.

There was that near 14-length victory in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, in which he stopped the clock in 1.59.36 – the fastest ever 1m2f run at Saratoga. Other fans will fondly recall his win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, in which he took dead aim on California Chrome to run down that rival with the pair over ten lengths clear of the third. Just as memorable was the way he overcame a desperate start in the Dubai World Cup to cut through the field and win in his typical authoritative manner.

“I thought then, ‘If he wins this race, he’s the most incredible horse I’ve ever seen,’” Baffert told reporters following the race.

In contrast to the vast majority of Juddmonte’s Group or Grade 1 winners, who are homebreds hailing from long-standing Juddmonte families, Arrogate was sourced as a yearling, joining the outfit when purchased for $560,000 as a yearling at the 2014 Keeneland September Sale.

He took time to mature but once he hit the track, was swift to reward such patience.

After running third on his debut at Los Alamitos, he rattled off wide-margin wins in maiden and allowance company in California. It was after a second easy allowance win at Del Mar that Baffert decided to let him loose against the best of his generation in the Travers Stakes and he didn’t disappoint with a sensational performance.

Settled into an early lead by Smith, Arrogate began to forge ahead heading into the stretch and pulled further and further clear. At the line, he had 13 and a half lengths to spare over his stablemate American Freedom as Grade 1 winners such as Gun Runner, Exaggerator and Connect struggled even further in behind.

Mike Smith celebrates after winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Arrogate – Photo: George Selwyn

From there, Arrogate took on and defeated California Chrome in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to seal the title as North America’s champion three-year-old colt of 2016.

The tour de force continued at four. A track record-setting win in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Stakes Invitational Stakes at Gulfstream Park, worth $12 million, provided that lucrative event with exactly the type of result desired by its organisers to launch it going forward. And when Arrogate overcame adversity to win the Dubai World Cup at Meydan two months later, he entered history as the richest racehorse in history. Today, he remains the richest North American racehorse of all time as the earner of $17,422,600.

Arrogate wasn’t at his best upon his return to America, when the best of three runs was a placed effort in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic. However, that should not detract from the overall brilliance of a career that enthralled fans and evoked comparisons with Secretariat.

Garrett O’Rourke, General Manager of Juddmonte Farms USA, paid tribute to Arrogate. He said: “We will never forget the ride Arrogate took us on. Those four amazing races established him as one of the great racehorses of our time, breaking two track records, taking down champion California Chrome in a battle for the ages and then running by Gun Runner in another worldly performance in Dubai.”

Arrogate retired to Juddmonte Farms in Kentucky for the 2018 season at a fee of $75,000. As befitted his race record, good looks and pedigree, he attracted an outstanding book of mares in his first season that included 42 Graded stakes winners, notably champion and multiple Grade 1 heroine Songbird; the resulting foal was a filly born in January this year.

Grade 1 winners Plum Pretty, Centre Court, By The Moon and Artemis Agrotera also have yearlings on the ground by Arrogate while among Juddmonte’s own group include youngsters out of Grade 1 winner Paulassilverling, who was sourced specifically to go to Arrogate, homebred Grade 1 producers Rising Tornado and Soothing Touch and their Grade 2 winner Filimbi.

“It was a bold decision to ask Bob Baffert to purchase and train top dirt horses for Prince Khalid”

Arrogate covered another strong book of 149 mares in 2019 and was undoubtedly well supported again this season at a fee of $50,000.

Four of Arrogate’s first crop sold at public auction last year. Led by a $425,000 half-sister to Grade 1 winner Wavell Avenue sold to McMahon & Hill Bloodstock, they returned an average of $311,250.

A tall, imposing horse with a real look of his sire Unbridled’s Song about him, Arrogate was bred by Clearsky Farm out of Bubbler, a stakes-winning Distorted Humor granddaughter of champion two-year-old Meadow Star.

Few horses possess the brilliance and flamboyance of Arrogate and it is to be hoped that he can leave some runners of significance.

Perhaps the last word should be left to Garrett O’Rourke.

“We hope that the heartbreak of losing him so young can be soothed by proudly watching the achievement of his runners,” he said.