Whicker: Jockey Mike Smith makes some noise at quiet Santa Anita

7-year-old Arrogate died on Tuesday, which was too early.

He was also born prematurely.

This 2020 Triple Crown schedule would be Arrogate’s head of oats. The Belmont Stakes on June 20, the Kentucky Derby on Labor Day weekend and the Preakness in October … that would be closely associated with thunder that Arrogate produced in late 2016 and early 2017.

“I wish I had the words to describe what it felt like when he was rolling,” said Mike Smith, Arrogate’s pilot at the time, fighting the same empty feeling that trainer Bob Baffert struck.

“My vocabulary isn’t very good,” said Smith. “If he ran a mile and a half, he would run under the wire faster the second time. He also passed some serious horses. He did more in a shorter period of time than anyone. Phenomenal actually.”

Smith called Arrogate “LeBron”, but in reality he was Sandy Koufax, a brilliant comet who disappeared ahead of schedule.

Arrogate only debuted in mid-April because Baffert felt he hadn’t grown into his body. He won the Travers and Breeders Cup Classic in 2016, then the Pegasus and the Dubai World Cup in 2017, where he collected most of his $ 17 million North American record. Three tough races at Del Mar, where he didn’t like the deep track, sent Arrogate to the shed early.

Is there a show-stopping horse in 2020 and if no one is there will it make a noise? Saturday there were welcome rumbles in Santa Anita, with Smith at the epicenter.

On her first visit to Santa Anita, he was served Swiss Skydiver, and the two left with the Santa Anita Oaks.

Then he and Honor A.P. blew past Authentic for a Santa Anita Derby victory that looked quite Kentuckian.

In the Hollywood Gold Cup, Smith quickly closed on Tenford to take third place as favorite Improbable broke free and blew the field away.

Swiss Skydiver has never gotten a speck of dirt by the mile and one-sixteenth of the Santa Anita Oaks. She set Speech aside for four lengths and continued on her way to the Kentucky Oaks, where she could meet Gamine, Baffert’s top three-year-old filly that Speech beat only one neck on May 2.

Swiss Skydiver, trainer Kenny McPeek and owner Peter Callahan play with house money. The filly already has enough points for the classic of September 4 at Churchill Downs. McPeek caught her on the Keeneland sale for just $ 35,000. Saturday’s profit increased her bank book to $ 557,000. Callahan, once the primary shareholder of the National Enquirer, is in the same boat with no losses.

Swiss Skydiver’s other distinction is its total disregard for track or rider. She won in Gulfstream on March 28 and in Oaklawn on May 1. She contributed Brian Hernandez and Paco Lopez in those two wins.

“That’s a super filly,” said Baffert. “And Mike is always so good from one hole.”

Another pilgrim following the path of Arrogate was Cezanne, who made his debut over six and a half furlongs for Baffert.

He wore number 1, but the relevant figure was 3.6, just like in million, which Cezanne M.V. cost. Magnier. M.V. is the son of John Magnier, a former Irish senator and owner of Coolmore Stud, the largest breeding farm in the world. So the interest was not a problem.

Any horse worth $ 3.6 million is expected to win moonwalk and sing “Danny Boy.” Cezanne withdrew to win at 2 ¼ lengths, but he and Flavian Prat had to slip through cracks to get there. The Kentucky Derby is already in the binoculars for Cezanne and he can replace Charlatan, who is likely to miss the Belmont and Derby, with ‘ankle problems’.

Smith is 54, or twice the age of Prat, who won four of the first six races on Saturday. His big tour with Justify earned him seven Triple Crown wins and he won two Kentucky Oaks. In all those years, he doesn’t remember doing so much healthy idleness. But he is in the adaptation business.

“I just doubled my cardio,” said Smith. “I would get up and run five miles in the morning, get something light to eat, then I would go on a bike ride from 25 to 30 kilometers and do more cardio later. It was funny. First race back, I wasn’t even tired when I got out. ”

He laughed. “I thought this virus could shorten my career,” he said. “Now it looks like it might extend it.”

Is there greatness in horse racing this year? Ask Smith, a reliable source, within five months.

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