Preakness winner Exaggerator has arrived at Belmont Park to claim victory over the 148th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 11. Exaggerator, who had been 0-for-4 against Nyquist heading into Preakness at Pimlico Race Course on May 21, got the best of his rival with a late-charging, rail-skimming run through the mud that carried him to a 3 ½-length victory over Cherry Wine, with Nyquist coming in third and suffering his first career defeat in nine starts.
Many had hoped to see the rivalry continue between Nyquist and Exaggerator at Belmont, but it was determined that Nyquist would scratch Belmont due to inconclusive blood tests following the close of Preakness.
The probables, including Brody’s Cause, Cherry Wine, Creator, Exaggerator, Destin, Governor Malibu, Lani, Suddenbreakingnews, for this week’s Belmont Stakes prepare for the 1½-mile Belmont, the centerpiece of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival from June 9-11. The questionable entries for the June 11 race include Stradivari, Wild About Deb, and Trojan Nation.
Exaggerator enjoyed treats of carrots and apples last weekend as trainer Keith Desormeaux tried to take in the significance of his first classic win and what awaits the colt in New York.
“I’m still processing it all,” he said. “The dream is to be able to compete at this level. To have a horse that is consistent, to have the ability to compete at this level. Winning the thing, we do our best, honestly. We prepare and hope and make sure we’ve done all we can to get the horse to the race in the best shape we can. The actual feeling of winning is actually, honestly, still sinking in.”
“Honestly, the hard part in getting the horses to this level is the year of preparation in getting here,” said Trainer Desormeaux. “Keeping them happy. Keeping them refreshed. Massages. Sponge baths. Good grooms and great meals. It gets real simple after you do this. The real work is done.”
The trainer said he thought Exaggerator might have an edge in the Belmont, the longest of the three Triple Crown races, based on pedigree.
Desormeaux’s brother, Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, will be aboard as he goes for his second win in the Belmont.
The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will officially kick off starting Thursday, June 9 and will feature 19 stakes races over a three-day period with nearly $10 million in total purses. The festival will also feature world-class entertainment, premium hospitality and numerous activities for fans of all ages. Visit www.nyra.com for more information.