How Juddmonte managed Arrogate's deep first book of mares
The lessons Juddmonte Farms learned from the first mares bred to Empire Maker and Aptitude have put its new sire and champion Arrogate on a better path toward early success, according to the farm's manager, Garrett O'Rourke.
"With Arrogate, we've set about showing what we've learned," said O'Rourke. "We made sure he had a nice blend of quality mares, those of the calibre to produce the type of runners similar to what he was - a classic, American dirt runner.
"We used a certain percentage of turf mares, but we went heavier than we did in the past on good dirt mares. We even went out and bought some precocious speed mares to bolster his chances of getting early runners," he said.
One of those precocious mares Juddmonte acquired in 2017 is multiple Grade 1 sprinter Paulassilverlining, who won the Grade 2 Matron Stakes at two. In Juddmonte's colors, she won the Madison Stakes and Humana Distaff Stakes - both at 7f - as well as the Honorable Miss Handicap over 6f.
Arrogate, a son of Unbridled's Song out of dirt and turf black-type winner Bubbler, didn't start at two. He made his racing debut on April 17 of his sophomore year at Los Alamitos Race Course, where he finished third.
Then the floodgates of his ability opened. The big, charcoal gray colt won his next three starts by a combined 11 and a half lengths before making his first black-type start in the Travers Stakes, where he roared to a 13 and a half-length victory and set a stakes record of 1:59.36.
Following his tour de force at Saratoga Race Course, Arrogate delivered equally inspiring victories in the Breeders' Cup Classic, inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes, and the Emirates Airline-sponsored Dubai World Cup. He retired as the richest North American-based racehorse with $17,422,600 in earnings.
Typically, the first mares sent to stallions such as Arrogate, Empire Maker (who won the Belmont Stakes and finished second in the Kentucky Derby), and Aptitude (who finished second in the Derby and Belmont) are dominantly Classic distance runners and producers, according to O'Rourke.
So the combination of later-maturing foals with a strong turf influence common in the Juddmonte broodmare band likely conspired to give Empire Maker and Aptitude relatively slow starts at stud.
Empire Maker was a top-ten sire in his first-crop and second-crop years and was the leading third-crop sire of his class on the strength of his Grade 1-winning and Classic-placed son Pioneerof the Nile.
But in his progeny's third year to race in 2009, Empire Maker had only seven black-type winners (five per cent from starters), and by the end of the year he was on his way to Japan. With time, Empire Maker's runners continued to excel, and after five years in Japan he was returned to the U.S. in 2015.
The road was tougher for Aptitude, who had no black-type runner his freshman sire year. As a second-crop sire, he was represented by two Graded stakes winners and one Grade-1 placed winner. Eventually, he would sire four per cent Northern Hemisphere stakes winners from starters. Aptitude was sent to Argentina in 2010 and never returned to the US.
O'Rourke said introducing more early speed into Arrogate's first book will actually serve dual purposes: it sets up Arrogate's progeny for early success, and it provides some excitement for Juddmonte owner Prince Khalid Abdullah's racing operation.
"In the past, Prince Khalid might ask what the two-year-olds look like, and you'd think you have a bunch of nice two-year-olds, but none of them are going to race until early in their three-year-old years," O'Rourke said. "Sometimes it's nice to have something a bit more precocious. They might not end up being the best horse in the stable, but they sure do entertain while you are waiting for the good ones to come along."
O'Rourke also noted that being a brilliant two-year-old does not preclude a horse from developing into a classic competitor.
"My go-to example is More Than Ready, who ran at Keeneland as a two-year-old and ran right down the trail to the Kentucky Derby and to the end of his three-year-old year. There was no point in waiting on him because he was more than capable in April of his two-year-old year. Good Magic is not far off being that type as well. If you're good, you're good," he said.
In addition to injecting precociousness, O'Rourke said he's learned another valuable lesson over the years concerning leveraging the collective wisdom of breeders.
"We are not trying to force certain bloodlines or types of mares on Arrogate," O'Rourke said. "We have observed over the years that there are certain crosses that evolve with stallions that make you say, 'Huh, I wouldn't have guessed that.'
"Some mares got proposed to us where we might have asked for an explanation, out of curiosity, and usually the explanation was a very good one. That is where you have to allow breeders to use their skills because you get diversity and excellence.
"If you have 100 different breeders, then that is 100 different consultants whose brains you get to pick, and it is interesting to see what some of the masters do. They are the ones that have the best view and know their mares better than we know their mares," he said.
Where Juddmonte did not compromise was on quality.
"It is very important that first crop and, given we had a limited book, we had to be sure the slots were filled with mares most likely to produce a black-type runner," O'Rourke said. "Invariably, when we asked if someone might reconsider and find a better mare, a lot of breeders did come back with a mare of higher quality."
Out of 143 mares in Arrogate's first book, 42 (29 per cent) are Graded stakes winners and 13 (nine per cent) won a Grade/Group 1 stakes, such as multiple champion Songbird, Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty, and Juddmonte's Sightseek. The composition of the book also includes 47 (33 per cent) black-type-producing mares, which include 39 (27 per cent) Graded stakes producers and, of those, 22 (15 per cent) are Grade 1 producers.
The Comparable Index (CI) and the Class Performance Index (CPI) are used to compare book quality among sires. The CI is an earnings-based index like the Average Earnings Index, but it represents the racing quality of a book of mares' foals by other stallions. The CI indicates how good the mares are as producers regardless of their mates. The CPI represents how good a group of mares were as racehorses, showing the ratio of their average earnings to the average earnings of all other runners in the same country during a given year.
The CI of Arrogate's first book is a stout 3.80, which is the fifth-highest among entering North American sires in the past 12 years. The entering-year sires with higher CIs since 2007 include Darley's Bernardini, Coolmore/Ashford Stud's stallions Henrythenavigator and American Pharoah, and Curlin, who entered stud at Lane's End and now stands at Hill 'n' Dale Farms.
Arrogate's first book CPI is even stronger at 7.38, which is second only to Bernardini, who had a CPI of 11.16 in 2007.
All in the blend
"As these numbers indicate, the quality is there, but I really love the blend," O'Rourke said about Arrogate's book overall. "There was a feeling back with Empire Maker and Aptitude that we didn't have the quantity of dirt mares that would have helped those stallions. And so we didn't have the success with their offspring that we might have had if we'd had those types of mares.
"With Arrogate, we have a nicer balance. It excites me that Arrogate got small mares, big mares, fast and precocious mares, Classic mares, and some turf mares. He got a nice broad spectrum, but they were all very high quality by race record and pedigree.
"I can't wait to see the first foals," he continued. "That is the fun part."
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