Class of 2016 – Grading the Rising Stars

Arrogate Horsephotos

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Though he didn't debut until April of his 3-year-old year, Arrogate (Unbridled's Song) proved worth the wait, coming in third in his debut before unleashing an onslaught of victories that culminated in early 2017's last-to-first performance in the G1 Dubai World Cup. A $560,000 Keeneland September yearling, Arrogate earned his 'TDN Rising Star' tag with a wire-to-wire effort at Santa Anita June 6. He won twice more in allowance/optional claiming company before his coming-out party in the GI Travers S. where he defeated a loaded field–MGISP American Freedom (Pulpit), 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}), GISW & fellow 'Rising Star' Gift Box (Twirling Candy), GISW Connect (Curlin), MGISW Creator (Tapit), MGSW & GISP Destin (Giant's Causeway), MGISW Exaggerator (Curlin) and GSW & late sire Laoban (Uncle Mo)–by 13 1/2 lengths in track record time. He next went on defeat California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) in the 2016 GI Breeders' Cup Classic to be named champion 3-year-old. Retired with earnings of over $17 million, Arrogate's legacy, though sadly cut short with his untimely death in 2020, lives on in progeny such as GI Longines Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath, MGISW Cave Rock, and GISW  And Tell Me Nolies.

Another gray Mike Smith-ridden 2016 'Rising Star' who didn't earn her tag until her second start late in the year, Unique Bella (Tapit) went on as a 3-year-old to be nearly undefeated, finishing behind rivals only once in the GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Previously a four-time graded-stakes winner, Unique Bella would be named champion female sprinter for her efforts. As an improved 4-year-old, she would take a trio of Grade I races, finishing her career a winner in the GI Clement L. Hirsch S. and champion older dirt female with an impressive record of 12-9-2-0.

Six more 2016 'Rising Stars' would go on to win multiple Grade I events throughout their career. Top-10 freshman sire Oscar Performance (Kitten's Joy) won a total of four Grade I races including the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf while Lady Aurelia (Scat Daddy) did her best running in Europe with a win in the G1 King's Stand S. at Royal Ascot.

Eight more 'Stars' would win at the highest level once, four of whom have since gone on to stud careers–the aforementioned Gift Box, Klimt (Quality Road), Mo Town (Uncle Mo), and Mastery (Candy Ride {Arg}).

Out of 86 named American 'TDN Rising Stars' in 2016, a total of 16 (18%) would achieve success at the Grade/Group I level. Another 19 (22%) would take one or more graded-stakes races meaning a total of 35 (40%) capitalized on the potential shown early in their careers. When factoring in horses that were graded-stakes placed, that number jumps to 47 (54%). An additional 17 (19%) would earn black type at the listed level while 22 (25%) never won or placed in stakes company.

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