Well, maybe. But then again maybe not. We’ll have to wait and see. Now, take nothing and I mean nothing away from this horse, Arrogate. He wins. He won four of the biggest races in the – in the WORLD. I’d give my left ball to own, train or ride this horse. Who wouldn’t? However, some perspective is definitely in order.
People are proclaiming Arrogate the best horse EVER or as Dubai Cup track announcer, Terry Spargo proclaimed: Arrogate “the 21st century’s Man O’ War”. Terry Spargo never saw Man O’ War run and at this point probably 85% of people who’ve watched Arrogate are of limited perspective.
This is not to say they aren’t entitled to their opinions, they are. Let me further say I can’t even prove them to be wrong. They absolutely might be right. Who am I to say they’re wrong. They are right to love this horse.
Let me stipulate, I think it’s unfair to look back to Man O’ War. You’re messing with legend. It’s like trying to take down Babe Ruth or Muhammad Ali. Just don’t do it, you look foolish. Again a tick of perspective is helpful.
Money earned is no longer an accurate measurement of great horses. Multi-million dollar races only came into existence with the Arlington Million in 1981 and then the Breeders” Cup races in 1984. No horse had opportunities to bankroll their reputations prior to those dates. And no, The All American Futurity doesn’t count in this particular discussion. Arrogate won the lions share of his $11M earnings in just four races. Multi-million dollar races are by previous standards much more widely available today. Further to this point, stakes races have proliferated like flies because it serves the blue-blooded breeding farm establishment. Having more “black type races” on a pedigree catalog page is in the breeders’ and sales company’s best interests, not the sport of horse racing. There are so many “stakes” races now, you can’t even keep track of them. It’s like The Grammy Awards, everybody wins one. It’s a scam really but that’s a topic for another day.
Additionally, breaking bad at the start or being pinched back along the way and winning anyway can be impressive but to be honest, it happens all the time. If you don’t think so or understand this, you simply haven’t watched enough horse races. Really good horses over come adversity. The truly great horse seems to never encounter adversity, they create it for others. Great horses across an arc of history share this trait collectively. It’s almost mystical once you understand it.
To be fair, let’s not go back too far. Different era’s are difficult to transpose. Fairness would probably merit a cut-off line around Dr. Fager 1966-68 or Secretariat from 1972-73. After that, where do you draw the line? Their are still enough of us around who were actually out of pampers or cognizant who actually watched Secretariat run other than on YouTube. Everyone can decide where to draw your own line.
Next of course is the age old cliche any great horse must over come: “Who did he beat when he won?” To which I answer, “He beat them all”. So this one doesn’t fly with me.
Make no mistake about it, the sport which for decades held the title as the world’s largest spectator sport and is now the entertainer formally known as The Sport of Kings needs new heroes and all the help it can get. The game has been bungled and mismanaged for the last 30 years in every possible way. So if you find it comforting or even clever marketing to announce Arrogate as the best horse – EVER – it’s ok. He might be.
However, before you place this very personal “opinion” at the doorstep of history in a sport filled with mythical equine ghosts, Gods really, did you forget, uhhhh, ol’ what’s his name…American, American… American PHAROAH!?
You “probably” didn’t. But let me ask you this, did you forget: Dr. Fager, Secretariat, Forego, Ruffian, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Alydar, Spectacular Bid, Glorious Song, John Henry, Princess Rooney, Personal Ensign, Sunday Silence or Cigar and Zenyatta? Let’s not even go there when it comes to: Lady’s Secret, Winning Colors, Unbridled, A.P. Indy, Street Sense, Rachel Alexandra, Beholder, Wise Dan or California Chrome. You can look these horses up if you’re inclined. I’m sure – no I’m certain I left out some other great horses.
Let me serve up these recent examples of preconceived greatness. In just a handful of professional games, R.G.III (Robert Griffin) AND Colin Kaepernick were both anointed two of the greatest quarterbacks EVER to put on a helmet in the NFL and proclaimed to have the vaunted status of Hall of Famers-to-be. As was idiot college quarterback Johnny Manziel also destine to be among the elites in Canton, Ohio. Remember quarterback Ryan Leaf? If not, you lack perspective. How has it worked out for these guys? Jumping the gun is being gentle.
When you start speaking about greatness, consider who came before you. Think back. If you’re thinking and actual experience doesn’t go back very far, do some research before you make up your mind. Have an informed opinion. Sainthood typically requires not only one – but two miracles, as well as some perspective.
Who’s the best horse EVER!? I don’t know. For my money it’s Secretariat. But if you want to see the best horse race ever run, click this link watch the 1989 Preakness. The winner checks all the boxes and then some. Watching this race still makes me emotional after 28 years. This is my informed opinion along with a good dose of perspective.