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Liberal Arts a Standout from Arrogate's Final Crop

Porter on Pedigrees

Liberal Arts wins the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs

Liberal Arts wins the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs

Coady Photaography/Cady Coulardot

The death of Arrogate in June 2020 after just three seasons at stud was a sad loss. As a racehorse, Arrogate earned the status of an all-time great with consecutive victories in the Travers Stakes (G1), which he took by 13 1/2 lengths in track-record time; the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), as a 3-year-old, defeating older Horse of the Year California Chrome ; the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) by 4 3/4 lengths in a track record; and unforgettably, the Dubai World Cup (G1), where he scored by 2 1/2 lengths from Horse of the Year Gun Runner  despite completely blowing the start, and at one point trailing the leaders by upwards of 10 lengths.

At the time of his retirement to stud, there was some cause for concern about Arrogate's prospects as a stallion in that he was a son of Unbridled's Song. Although he was an outstanding sire and is an excellent broodmare sire, Unbridled's Song had been at that point a very disappointing sire of sires (although he now has two proven Kentucky-based sons in Liam's Map  and Cross Traffic ). A look at the record, however, shows that Arrogate appeared to be well on the way to defying those doubts, and defying them in style.

That said, concern did still linger after a slow start with his first juveniles as the 2021 Freshman Sire table showed him back in 11th, with not a single black-type runner among his 35 starters.

The next year, 2022, saw a rapid change, though, and that slow-starting first crop has yielded six stakes winners, headed by Secret Oath, whose successes include the Kentucky Oaks (G1); Fun To Dream, who took the Malibu Stakes (G1); and 2023 graded scorer Petulante.

Arrogate's second crop proved more precocious, with two standout juveniles, Cave Rock, a brilliant winner of the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and American Pharoah Stakes (G1) and second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and And Tell Me Nolies, successful in the Del Mar Debutante Stakes (G1) and Chandelier Stakes (G2). Tragically, the prospects for the Arrogate line extending took a severe blow this August when Cave Rock—who had not started in 2023—died of laminitis following emergency surgery for an inguinal hernia. By this time, however, another potential heir had appeared in the shape of Arcangelo , who put together consecutive triumphs in the Peter Pan Stakes (G3), Belmont Stakes (G1), and Travers Stakes (G1). Having been forced to skip the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) due to a foot problem, he is expected to stand at Lane's End Farm, Versailles, Ky., in 2024.

It is relatively early days yet for Arrogate's third and final crop—now 2-year-olds—but he does have a promising colt in the progressive Liberal Arts, who has shown consistent improvement with time and distance. Liberal Arts did begin his career as early as May 25, running third in a maiden special weight over five furlongs at Churchill Downs. He took second in a similar event at Ellis Park over six furlongs before breaking his maiden over 220 yards further at the same venue. Trying black-type company in the one-mile Iroquois Stakes (G3), Liberal Arts finished well for third, beaten just a neck for second, and on Sunday, given an extra sixteenth to work with, he ran out a 2 3/4-length winner of the Street Sense Stakes (G3).

Liberal Art's dam, Ismene, was a speedy and precocious performer who won three races at 2, including the Anoakia Stakes and the California Breeders Champion Stakes. She didn't run at 3 but returned the following year to take second in three other black-type events. She is also dam of the Barretts Debutante Stakes scorer Ismelucky, and of stakes-placed Nardini. Ismene's sire, Tribal Rule, a son of Storm Cat, never even started in a black-type event, but he did show considerable speed in winning two of his four starts, a maiden special weight and an allowance, both over six furlongs, winning one by eight lengths and the other by five. Standing in California, Tribal Rule was a successful sire with 36 stakes winners, eight graded, including the grade 1 winners Georgie Boy and Spanish Queen.

The second dam, the maiden winner New to Excess, is by another California sire, In Excess, out of Margaret Booth, winner of the Torrey Pines Stakes and runner-up in the Chula Vista Handicap (G2). Margaret Booth never produced a black-type winner, but is first, second, or third dam of eight other stakes winners, including the Ack Ack Handicap (G3) victor, Lucky J.H., who is out of her stakes-placed A.P. Indy daughter, Lucky C.H.

In Excess
Photo: Courtesy Vessels Stallion Farm
Liberal Arts's second dam is by the late longtime California-based stallion In Excess

Margaret Booth is half sister to Cacoethes, a top-class son of Alydar who won the Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (G1) in North America and the King Edward VII Stakes (G2) in England, and who also gave the mighty Nashwan a scare in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1); to the grade 1-winning Fabulous Notion, herself dam of the Test Stakes (G1) winner Fabulously Fast, and ancestress of several other stakes winners, including four-time grade 1 winner City of Light ; to Not So Careless, the dam of Subordination, whose victories included the Hollywood Derby (G1), Eddie Read Handicap (G1), and Brooklyn Handicap (G2); and to Careless Virgin, the granddam of champion turf filly Fiji and third dam of Blue Grass Stakes (G1) scorer Java's War.

The family goes back to Gravitation, a sister to the fourth dam of the 1936 Horse of the Year, champion 3-year-old colt, and Belmont Stakes winner Granville, and a very close relative to Pitti, the granddam of the 1928 Kentucky Derby hero, Reigh Count, subsequent sire of Triple Crown laureate Count Fleet, who was actually linebred to this family.

There is also a classic connection in the pedigree pattern that produced Liberal Arts. He is by a grandson of Unbridled out of a mare by Tribal Ruler, and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah  is by a grandson of Unbridled out of a mare by Yankee Gentleman, a three-quarter brother to Tribal Rule. For Liberal Arts, this is a version of the Unbridled's Song/Storm Cat cross that has produced such quality as champion Close Hatches and other grade 1 winners Magnificent Song, Buddha, Basin , Furia Azteca, Limestone, and Fondo Tropical.