Arrogate – Best Horse EVER?

Clint Goodrich Blog Post 9 Comments

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.

Sunday Silence and Easy Goer

Comments 9

  1. David Juffet

    How can a horse who’s run 10 times soon 11 times before retirement be considered the greatest horse of all time? Our sport has become a bad joke.

    1. Post
      Clint Goodrich

      It would appear to me, David, that Arrogate’s status of “Best Horse EVER!” has been significantly diminished. He’s certainly a nice horse but as I was trying to illustrate in this post, he may not be what he seemed to so many. People making this proclamation don’t have enough perspective. I’ve been watching him train at Santa Anita, I’m not overly impressed. If he runs the way he’s been running AND training, his performance in the upcoming Breeders’ Cup Classic may further disappoint.

      For my money, he’s just a nice horse.

  2. Jason Reed

    Cal allows horses to train on steroids. BB has made a career of this. The sign is 2.5 months off to clear the steroids. Working with the CHRB, I may have stifled this to one use and sparingly. DO is another user. We just saw some horses with horrible speed dosage win the triple crown or come close. Horses you couldn’t pay me to breed to. AP just went to NZ. Good riddance to that line. I saw a picture of him after he lost his muscle mass and I’ve seen $5k claimers that looked just like him. To me, Affirmed is still the real last triple crown winner because it was fair racing.

    1. Post
      Clint Goodrich

      You’re on the money about Affirmed. He was one of the real greats. That’s why I used his picture. I am not a B.B. or D.O. fan. These guys are NOT horsemen much to the perception of many.. There are too many coincidences with these guys (and others).

      Chemicals have been being used as substitutes for horsemanship years. I am not a total anti-medication guy but many trainers AND vets have totally abused their value. I’m for very tight, limited medications and “nearly” exclusively for therapeutic purposes. I would implement a pre-race testing too procedure. Costs a little more but against the cost of the lost confidence of the public, that cost is negligible. I want bettors and fans to have zero repercussions if a horse tests positive. They should be scratched in advance and not race. The damage done to racing by after the fact testing is extraordinary and un-necessary. Take the card away. In other words, stop shooting yourself in the foot. – Clint

  3. Liz

    I’m not particularly interested in comparing just Australian horses, because I’m not parochial. I find it bizarre that ‘as an American’, you only mention American horses as the best ones. You talk horses who have ‘world impact’, but most of the horses you mentioned haven’t had that. They didn’t race outside of the USA. I’d say horses like Frankel, Nijinsky, Mill Reef, Sea Bird, Vaguely Noble, Deep Impact, for starters. There are many great European and Japanese horses. Too many to list that would be equal or better than the ones you list. Australian horses would include Winx, Sunline, Black Caviar, Kingston Town, Tulloch.

    1. Post
      Clint Goodrich

      I’m not sure what or why you find this bizarre. The facts are quite clear. And once again Liz, I stated IN THE POST: “I’m sure – no I’m certain I left out some other great horses.” I also did not include Northern Dancer, who by the way is from Canada and the sire of Nijinski. Oh yeah, since we’re comparing notes, you forgot Shergar? There are others.. I just drew my personal line about how far back I was going to go around the time between Dr. Fager and Secretariat.

      You can add to your list any horse you feel is worthy. I was not and am not interested in listing EVERY single horse that may or may not fall into this category. I also clearly stated this is MY OPINION and since I wrote the post, I feel no need to consult with you. I also don’t really care whether said horse(s) raced in OR outside of the USA. However, most and I do mean MOST of the greatest horses in history, raced in the USA. Most of those you listed didn’t race outside European countries. Other than with Frankel, European racing during the eras of the horses you mention was a closed and small environment.

      You also state incorrectly those I listed had no world impact. Not sure exactly what that means but maybe you should look into this a little bit, you know, just for your own personal insight and perspective. The post was simply regarding the “who is the or among the best horses ever”. It was and is an open question. I’m not quite sure what you don’t understand about this subject.

      By all means make your own list. I actually agree with you on Nijinski, Mill Reef, Sea Bird, Vaguely Noble and maybe Frankel were great horses. They also don’t make my top list because they were primarily if not exclusively grass horses. They were great sires too but they were not versatile racehorses.

      There are no great Japanese horses. The other horses you mention from Australia, sorry, I never heard of any of them. So much for their world impact.

  4. Liz

    Aren’t you really asking who the best American horse is ever? There’s racing going on all over the world. On turf. With horses who don’t need Lasix. Why not mention those horses?

    1. Post
      Clint Goodrich

      Hi Liz… Actually no, I wasn’t talking about the best American horse ever. I was personally questioning anyone proclaiming to know who the best horse is – EVER! – (anywhere). I stated, no matter how many I mentioned, some great horse would get left off any list. Do you get my point?

      As an AMERICAN, I am mentioning those which I view as among the best or in my opinion THE best in that of Secretariat. As an Australian, feel free to name names if you like. No AUS horse comes to my mind other than Strawberry Road or Phar Lap. Drawing the line on an era such as with Phar Lap is like I stated with Man O’War but if you want to throw Strawberry Road into the mix, feel free. Not sure how much consensus you’ll get on that one but knock yourself out OR name another with world class impact on the Thoroughbred racing world in some meaningful way. I’m all ears and open minded. Thanks for reading:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *