…that’s why they run the race.

On paper, it looked like just about anyone could win the Travers.

That’s why they run the race.

Sure, that cliche usually applies to a race with a heavy favourite, a race in which people expect a horse who towers on form or class to romp, and someone else gets the best of them.  The phrase rarely comes out in relation to a thirteen-horse race in which more entrants than not have an argument to support playing them.

And, on paper, that was what the Travers was.  Exaggerator had won the Preakness and the Haskell.  Creator had won the Belmont.  Laoban won the Jim Dandy; Connect won the Curlin.  Destin, Gift Box, Governor Malibu, and Gun Runner had made fine accounts of themselves, chasing around those winners in the Classics and in the prep races.  American Freedom and Anaximandros were stepping up from the land of the B-Derbies.

And then, there was Arrogate, all alone.

Arrogate did not traverse the Derby trail.  He debuted the day after Creator won the Grade I Arkansas Derby.  Third at odds-on that day, he returned to break his maiden on June 5 at Santa Anita.  He eased through his first-level allowance condition, easily beating perennial bridesmaid Fusaichi Samurai.  He cleared his second-level condition at Del Mar, hitting the wire first in a field of just three.  He beat Kristo, a marginal Derby prep contender behind the likes of California Chrome and Midnight Hawk two years ago, but hardly a Grade I sort.

The Travers would be Arrogate’s first try in Grade I company.  It would be his first try in stakes company at all.  It would be his first ship outside of California, his first try in a mile and a quarter, his first race in a field bigger than six.

On paper, it looked like Arrogate had too much to overcome.

That’s why they run the race.

Arrogate knew nothing about the experience gap between him and his foes, or the class gap between the horses today and the ones he had faced.  It meant nothing to him that the wagering public sent him off at 11/1, instead of 1/9.  He would not be able to tell you what a 23.23 quarter or a 46.84 half meant in a ten-furlong race.

Arrogate knew it was time to run, and run he did.  He ran fast out of the gate, fast all the way around, and faster than any horse before him had ever covered a mile and a quarter at the Spa.

At the wire, it was Arrogate, all alone.

That’s why they run the race.

 

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