Juddmonte Farms


Taken from www.drf.com

by Nicole Russo

It’s about a 10-minute drive from Taylor Made Farm, where Unbridled’s Song once reigned supreme, to Juddmonte Farm, where ARROGATE now occupies a spacious, deeply bedded stall in the stallion barn.

Leif Aaron knows those winding roads along Tates Creek on the south side of Lexington well. He began his career in the Thoroughbred industry as a groom at Juddmonte 17 years ago, and worked in a variety of capacities – including pedigree research, stakes filly recruiting, and investment portfolios – over several years at Taylor Made, which stood Unbridled’s Song and sold a mare named Bubbler to Clearsky Farm. This year, Aaron rejoined Juddmonte to manage the careers of its stallions, including the son of Unbridled’s Song and Bubbler, a tall gray who eerily resembles his late sire.

“I think he’s very similar to Unbridled’s Song overall, especially when you look at his coloring, his size, the quality he brings to the table,” Aaron said. “This guy is a bit shorter in the back, maybe a little bit, with a little bit more leg. … [The impression he gives is] he’s a speedster, and it’s amazing he could carry that speed like he could.”

ARROGATE, who leads all North American runners with $17,422,600 in career earnings, is among the latest champions to emerge from the sire line of Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled. The stallion, champion son of Fappiano, has been profoundly influential, particularly in American classic-distance races, despite his premature death in 2001 at age 14. Unbridled sired a winner of every Triple Crown race, with 1996 Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone emerging from his first crop as Unbridled’s Song, running on a bar shoe, finished a creditable fifth as the favorite. He was followed by 2000 Preakness Stakes winner Red Bullet and 2003 Belmont Stakes victor Empire Maker, a Juddmonte homebred. Empire Maker is responsible, via his classic-placed son Pioneerof the Nile, for Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah, and classic-placed champion Classic Empire. Another classic-placed son of Empire Maker, Bodemeister, sired Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming in his first crop. Grindstone’s son Birdstone won the 2004 Belmont Stakes, and his first-crop sons Mine That Bird and Summer Bird accounted for two-thirds of the 2009 Triple Crown series. Another son of Unbridled, Broken Vow, has been a quiet stalwart, with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner and champion Champagne Room his most recent standout.

“It’s hard to come up with that true dirt speed,” Aaron said. “That’s what a lot of Americans want, dirt speed and the ability to go a classic distance.”

Unbridled’s Song stood at Taylor Made from his retirement in 1997 until his death in 2013 and was the family operation’s flagship stallion. He is the sire of Eclipse Award champions ARROGATE, Midshipman, and Will Take Charge; Canadian champion Embur’s Song; a trio of Breeders’ Cup Distaff winners in Unbridled Elaine, Unrivaled Belle, and Forever Unbridled; and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map, among his many other stakes performers. And yet, Unbridled’s Song’s sons have been only moderately successful at stud to date. Juddmonte homebred First Defence sired its champion Close Hatches; Midshipman sired the consistent campaigner Lady Shipman; and Even the Score turned out a pair of Grade 1 winners in Dullahan and Take the Points.

ARROGATE is one of several accomplished young sons of Unbridled’s Song to go to stud in recent years. Champion Will Take Charge, standing at Three Chimneys, has been well received with his first crop of yearlings at sale; Liam’s Map, standing at Lane’s End, has weanlings this year.

“We’re really seeing the best sons of Unbridled’s Song to go to stud yet,” Aaron said. “That side of the line is ready to take off.”

ARROGATE was bred by Clearsky Farm, which sold him at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale for $560,000. Juddmonte purchased him to fit its new California string, having decided to re-expand into that region after a hiatus following the death of Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.

Juddmonte tapped another Hall of Famer, Bob Baffert, as trainer, but, recalled Juddmonte manager Garrett O’Rourke, “Our breeding program didn’t quite produce the sort of horses that Bob trained, and [owner Prince Khalid Abdullah] said, ‘Well, buy some horses then.’ ”

Baffert scouted out ARROGATE working with bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, in conjunction with O’Rourke.

“Not only do we have a short list, but then we send it back to Prince Khalid, and he has the final thing,” Baffert said during ARROGATE’s 3-year-old campaign. “If he’s all right with the pedigree – he made it known that he not only wants to try to get a good horse, but a good stallion with good pedigree. So he fit – you know, we had to check all the boxes.”

Juddmonte purchased 16 yearlings at three editions of the Keeneland September sale from 2013 to 2015. In October 2015, Baffert called O’Rourke to update him on the unstarted son of Unbridled’s Song.

“I said, ‘Garrett, I think I’ve found one that’s going to pay for all of them. I said, ‘I think we’ve stumbled onto a really good horse,’ ” Baffert said. “He showed run as a 2-year-old, and he had some shin problems. He was a big, tall horse, so Garrett says, ‘You know what, just give him the time. Don’t worry about it.’ ”

ARROGATE made his debut in April of his 3-year-old season, finishing third at Los Alamitos. He won next out at Santa Anita, which would kick off a seven-race win streak. He followed the maiden score with a pair of allowance victories at Santa Anita and Del Mar before Baffert launched him into the deep end, shipping cross-country for a wide-open edition of the $1.25 million Travers Stakes. The field included classic winners Exaggerator and Creator, plus future Grade 1 winners Gun Runner and Connect. It was ARROGATE’s coming-out party. He romped by 13 1/2 lengths and finished the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.36, smashing General Assembly’s 37-year-old track record.

“I rode his father – he looks so much like his father,” jockey Mike Smith said after the Travers. “He was an unbelievably talented horse, and his son might be even more talented. It’s crazy. He just did a mile and a quarter, and as you can see galloping out, I had trouble getting him to stop. We headed for home, and he picked it up when I asked him. I was amazed how he lengthened his stride the last sixteenth of a mile and opened up.”

From there, the rest is history, ARROGATE ran down California Chrome to win the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, then crushed the two-time Horse of the Year when winning the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational. He then turned in a virtuoso performance in the $10 million Dubai World Cup. After breaking slowly, he rallied past Gun Runner in the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths. That series of indelible performances, despite losing his final three career starts, made ARROGATE a highly anticipated stallion prospect, with his $75,000 introductory fee the highest of the year in North America.

Juddmonte announced prior to the Breeders’ Cup that the Classic would mark ARROGATE's final career start – deciding to pass on a bid for a Pegasus repeat in January in favor of allowing the horse time to let down and adjust to farm life, and giving breeders more time to view him.

“The good horsemanship way to do it is to retire him after the Breeders’ Cup, let the horse let down, relax, and from the marketing point of view, the right thing to do is allow the breeders to view the horse so they may select the absolute best mates for the horse based on the evaluation of his good looks and conformation,” O’Rourke said at the time. “Obviously, if you only arrive at the farm in February, that will make the decision more difficult for breeders.”

ARROGATE's book size has been set at 142 for his initial season. Juddmonte, which breeds to race, has been preparing for his arrival for months by carefully considering its broodmare band – for example, with the private purchase of Paulassilverlining, a multiple Grade 1 winner this year, in March.

Beyond that, ARROGATE will be limited to 120 outside mares, in order to foster supply-and-demand dynamics that will benefit breed-to-sell operations, who can feel secure that they won’t bring a weanling or a yearling to a sale that is inundated with ARROGATE’s stock.

“When you’re a breeder and go to a sale with an ARROGATE foal, they’re gonna get rewarded,” Aaron said. It’s one reason “why we’ve gotten such a nice book of mares so far. It helps with management.”

ARROGATE landed a major coup when perhaps the most accomplished broodmare prospect in North America this season, two-time Eclipse Award champion Songbird, was booked to him. Mandy Pope, who has assembled a high-end broodmare band in recent years, purchased the Medaglia d’Oro filly for a near-record $9.5 million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale.

Other prominent breeders who have expressed support for ARROGATE include Samantha Siegel, who has booked multiple Grade 1-winning homebred By the Moon; and Glen Hill Farm, which has committed its stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Sly Storm.

ARROGATE will be one of two active stallions at Juddmonte’s Kentucky farm in 2018, joining another gray, the stalwart MIZZEN MAST, in the barn. The latter has been by his lonesome since Juddmonte sold First Defence in 2016. The international operation, which has a five-horse roster at its Banstead Manor Stud in England, has retired two accomplished runners to Kentucky in recent years, but they have stood at other farms in order to get other American breeders involved for the best chance of success. European champion Noble Mission, a full brother to FRANKEL, stands at Lane’s End, with Juddmonte retaining an interest. Eclipse winner Flintshire stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale for the partnership of that farm, Juddmonte, China Horse Club, and SF Bloodstock.

“If you look at the stallion rosters at a lot of the big stallion farms in the U.S., you’ll see that most of those operations didn’t actually race the majority of the horses themselves,” O’Rourke said earlier this year. “You have to go out and buy them, and we’re not willing to do that. We race our own horses; we have to be patient in allowing the horses to be good enough in their racing careers to come back. Looking at our rosters over the years, it’s about every five to seven years that we come across a really top horse we can stand at stud. That’s on average. Sometimes you’ll get two or three in a row and then get a gap. We’re having a little bit of a gap at the moment, and hopefully we’re ready to get two or three in a row. … Obviously, we have a very important one.”

Date: 14 December 2017