Exaggerator ‘Struggled’ With Belmont’s Surface, Points To Jim Dandy

by | 06.12.2016 | 2:03pm
Exaggerator

Grade 1 Preakness winner Exaggerator walked the shedrow Sunday morning, emerging no worse for wear following his 11th-place finish as the 7-5 favorite in Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

“He's good. I walked him myself at about 6:30 this morning. He's his same, vibrant self, bright-eyed, ate up his feed last night, legs are clean,” trainer Keith Desormeaux said. “Maybe a little more subdued than he usually is, but that stands to reason. [He's] good, happy and still has that confident look in his eye, so we're good. His trainer, I don't know about him. He's still trying to shake the cobwebs but, all in all, it's a good morning.”

Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, Keith's younger brother, had Exaggerator in the clear four wide around the turn and down the backstretch from post 11 in the 13-horse field. They remained in contention through a mile and a quarter before easing off down the lane and winding up 14 lengths behind winner Creator, finishing ahead of only long shot maiden winners Seeking the Soul and Forever d'Oro.

Winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby April 9 and runner-up to then-unbeaten Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby, Exaggerator and Japanese import Lani were the only two horses to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

“The only thing I can settle on right now is I really don't think he liked the surface, even though Kent disagrees. Kent only has two minutes to figure things out, I have 24 hours,” Keith Desormeaux said. “What sticks out in my mind is the fact that in the [previous] three races – Derby, Preakness, Santa Anita Derby – Kent's first comment when he came back to the winner's circle was, ‘Keith he's cooled out already.' In other words, he caught his breath, he's calm, his heart rate's down. He's back, before he got back to take his saddle off.

“Yesterday he panted and gasped the air and looked a little fatigued for 45 minutes after the race. I can guarantee the races haven't had the toll on him. He struggled with the track,” he added. “He gave us his [best] to try to win and it got to him. That's what I'm settling on. I think he didn't get hold of the track as well as he needed to in order to win the race. If it's a mile and a quarter, would he have won? I don't think he was ahead at the quarter pole. It wasn't the distance. It was the fact that he struggled with the track.”

Exaggerator was trying to become the first Derby runner-up since Hall of Famer Nashua in 1955 to win the final two-thirds of the Triple Crown. Only three favorites in the last 20 years have won the Belmont, including 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah.

“All in all what an experience. This is what we live for. This is what we work all our lives to get to this level,” Desormeaux said. “It still amazes me that so many people are interested in horses and their actions and their characteristics and traits. That's what I fell in love with as a kid, so it's so cool that so many people are interested as well. I hope we didn't disappoint them. He's a good horse. Everybody wants to be like American Pharoah but that's not the way it is. I hate that he disappointed as the favorite, that's always hurtful, but the horse will be back for more. It's cool to see so much interest in what the mainstream media describes as a dying sport. It seems alive and well to me.”

Looking ahead, Exaggerator will remain at Belmont Park through the end of the spring-summer meet before shipping to Saratoga Race Course with eyes on the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy July 30 and Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers August 27.

“It seems like a good plan,” he said. “We'll go with that and if we have to adjust, we will.”

  • Michael Castellano

    I’m not a jockey or a trainer, but the way I saw the race, having watched thousands like many of us, is that he looked rather keen to run early in the race, was pretty close to the pace, yet was being held very strongly and wide on the outside. Larry Collmus even made a remark stating there was a strong hold on Exaggerator. This may have been partially caused by his leaving for position out of the gate. Sometimes, having to hold a horse strongly takes the horse eventually out of the race, and makes it impossible to relax him fully. He has run OK in the past closer to the pace, so Kent likely did not hesitate to go for good position out of the gate. This time however, it may have backfired.

    • vinceNYC

      It reminded a lot of the ride Garret Gomez gave Hard Spun in the Belmont

      • Jocke Muth

        Some resemblance to the ride on Big Brown in the Belmont

        • race

          Please don’t remind me– Big Brown had a hole as.big as a truck beginning of the race on the first turn when Kent jerked his head– but I don’t blame Kent for this– either Big Sandy beat him or the previous two races did

          • Stevie

            Why could it not been a physical dysfunction?Many trainers good,bad and ugly miss many subtle problems horse’s may have but none the less these subtle dysfunctions can and do effect a horse’s performance.

        • vinceNYC

          Big Brown had something go wrong CLEARLY he isnt going to pull up a horse going for a TC

          • Jocke Muth

            Big ?, perhaps it’s his nervs

    • Elle D

      Seconds to make a decision.

      • Michael Castellano

        He had assumed the horse would rate. Apparently he did not this time. Now, he either has to move prematurely or restrain the horse. I have seen horses move early and win the Belmont. And some have lost because of this. But if the horse is rank you usually lose either way.

    • Harmony

      He never seemed to settle into his stride – from the first turn on he looked lost.

    • tony a

      Exactly, he chocked him down, shouldn’t just let him run comfortably.

      • Stevie

        Exaggerator was being held for only one of two reasons.he was moving quicker earlier due to discomfort he kent had to keep him from getting away or Kent wasn’t trying to use the horse with the knowledge that this horse was far from one hundred percent physically sound he was saving his horse from a potential catastrophic breakdown It is my belief that NYRA gave Keith no options but to get this horse into the gate and have him a starter for and srictly for their own financial rewards.After nyra gave Keith his ultimatum he knew instead of opposing nyra’s orders and pay for it one way or another he would give in to nyra.That’s just the way nyra operates,you could say BULLY!keith knows down the road he’ll have to return for other prestigious races when you have quality horse’s.So Keith decided it be best in the long run to race Exaggerator but their first concern was not to damage the horse any more then he already might be.

        • tony a

          Are you crazy?

          • Stevie

            Are you an innocent moron ?

    • Uncle Mo Cat

      Soon as Kent let him cruise up there four wide, I knew he was done. Wasn’t Kent’s best ride, but might not have made a difference on that track that day at that distance.

    • Pebbles

      He seemed to be a bit rank to me, as well.

      • Stevie

        Pebbles,your a hundred percent correct he was rank,it’s due to pain.I believe Exaggerator was way less than a hundred per cent physically .That’s probably why Kent was restraining him early with what seemed with difficulty, the horse wanted to go early but not in a good way .I believe sometimes when hurting horse’s will try to run away from something they don’t understand such as pain.Kent being a smart jock also knew he would have to protect this horse from running to hard especially early on ,he couldn’t take the chance that Exaggerator would get away from him early the last thing they wanted was a break down .It could have been Keith was urged to get this horse into the starting gate ,especially if he has any plans of ever racing at nyra again.The problem with Exaggerator is not a major one that can’t be fixed with some time off ,if I’m correct this problem was no secret as early as right after the Preakness to the day of his breeze before the Belmont .If I could see Exaggerator’s problem as a lay person surely others with much more acute horsemanship skill’s than I could have or should have seen it coming Exaggerator’s case does not seem to be a difficult case at this stage, naturally if not treated properly it would only get worse,but I’m not here to educate anyone especially horse people.

        • Pebbles

          How do you know it was due to pain? I know pain can cause rankness, but I also know that is not the only reason why it is caused. Sometimes it is due to the surface. He was not lame before or after the race that I could see. They would never run a horse they knew to be in pain. He had been eating up his food pre and post race which is another symptom of pain existing. So unless you have some actual evidence that pain was the cause of the issue in the Belmont you really should not be making such insinuations. Those with acute horsemanship skills look at his race and his gait and see that there is nothing in those to suggest any pain. Which is why I again urge you to be very careful in making such insinuations.

          • Stevie

            Pebbles,it was pain I know what I’m looking at.I’m not here to educate anyone but their were at least four indicator’s that all was not well with Exaggerator.Kent did the right thing on protecting him and wrapping him up when the horse went into distress.Hopefully there will be other races down the road.Stevie

          • Pebbles

            Please share those indicators if they were really there.

          • Stevie

            Exaggerator and his supporters before the Belmont ,”he’s good” “he couldn’t be doing better” “he trained well,he did just we wanted”. There’s no concern about his workout” “he ate up”. “His eye is still good” “he’s still sharp” meanwhile Exaggerator is saying would you people fix me before my next start or don’t race me so I don’t get hurt.stevie

          • Pebbles

            All this is supposition on your part. I have no trouble believing something contrary to what the connections say, but I am not going to do it based upon conjecture. You have to offer some proof. Did you observe something in his gallop pre or post race? I saw him at the stakes barn before the race and he looked fantastic. I saw him heading out to the track and he was a picture. I saw him galloping warming up for the race and his stride was perfect. So give me something that is credible or please just stop. :-)

          • Stevie

            Pebbles,I can appreciate you questioning supposition without concrete proof.Maybe this will help.I’m not talking about dead lame ,I’m talking about physical dysfunction that usually will effect performance when the horse is engaged in a high level of performance meaning obvious at some point in a race,definitely in the stretch,and after the finish .The level of dysfunction I’m discussing is usually not going to evident to most people by simply observing the horse in the barn unless he just returned from some sort of maximum effort.Galloping?Forget it most of the time this won’t be observed.However on a gallop out if you really know what your looking for you’ll see it.Now mind this every case is different and even with the same horse the problem if not corrected can show up differently at later date.If your looking for a head nod ,forget it at this point his problem is not that bad but it’s bad enough to effect his performance,especially at this level of racing I’ve worked with trainers where we’re looking at the same horse doing the same thing and come up with two different opinions.I tried to explain how I’m coming up with my opinion but in this particular situation I can’t say exactly what I see,I’m sure you can understand that.Pebbles, when Exaggerator runs big in his next start you could say I knew he didn’t know what he was talkin about.If I explained my reasons and observations you would understand a whole lot more .The problem is fixable,they’ll know what to do but first they have to admit to themselves that Exaggerator ,right now is dysfunctinal only then can they treat the problem sucessfully,some trainers pride gets in the way of admitting that something my be wrong with their horse.they would rather not know and hope for the best.Stevie

          • Pebbles

            Fair enough. Its a – you know it when you see it – type of a thing. I can understand that. I just deal with a lot of conspiracy theory types and do not like it when they are running connections and horses down just for the sake of it without really saying anything. I hope you are wrong because it sounds like the type of challenge that could take months to correct. But I think I know what you are speaking about. Honor Code had a similar type of issue early in his 3 year old season if I am understanding you correctly.

          • Stevie

            Pebbles,I don’t wish any bad to exaggerator or his connections,sometimes horsemen find themselves in a situation where they have choice’s to make and some of them are not always in the best interest of the horse.There are also times when the vet and or trainer just don’t know what’s ,they may think nothin’s wrong.This horse in my opinion can’t be permanently fixed or cure but he can be maintained close to or just as good .If they had to race the horse in the Belmont,Kent did the right thing by protecting him,to limit the possibilies of further damage and straighten him out for his next race.I could probably help this horse in two weeks but in order to have a competitive horse for his next start him would need to have maintinence up to his race .He probably needed to be maintained all along ,he probably had this problem brewing well before the Preakness .Horse’s can only give so much before whatever dysfunctions they have start effecting their performance,I believe that high performance is especially tough on a horse.I believe all horse’s start out with some level of dysfunction due to conformation issues,injuries,etc.Their genes and their care will determine how well they will handle their adversity.Up top I meant to say that I believe a high effort on a sloppy track can aggravate a problem even though the horse normally handles a sloppy track,he could absolutely love the slop but one awkward stride and or slip and you got a problem.A few year’s ago a top trainer had a horse named orb,he won the derby on a sloppy track but it was my belief his dysfunction caught up to him,I had approached the trainer about offering my service’s .One of his ass’ts and orb’s exercise rider suggested keeping him at rehab at fair hill in Maryland.He was getting rest ,all kinds of therapy but all therapy is not specific to each horse’s injurie’s but in their minds he was getting the best physical therapy.I heard about the program ORB was on and it had absolutely NOTHING to do with his specific dysfunction .I’ll tell you frustrating! This is what I mean this was a hall of fame trainer in my opinion not knowing s orb stated at fair hill and they all think he’s doing great before the Travers on the farm ,turn out ,fresh,all therapies up.You know SHg.Mgy. Had for the Travers a well rested.fresh,dysfunctional horse.I believe that was his last try.They couldn’t keep racing he lost value with each star after the derby one poor performance after another.In my opinion ORB did not have to be retired had they chose a different treatment protocol.But he’s the hall of famer.Stevie

          • Pebbles

            That is interesting about Orb. Perhaps even more interesting how you characterize his performances as poor post-Derby.

            He manged a post Kentucky Derby record of 4-0-0-2-1 with only his last race, the Jockey Club Gold Cup where he finished off the board. I thought he ran well in those races. I have no reason to doubt what you say, though I do hold CRM’s barn in high regard.

            Also, I do not believe he lost much value at all. While additional wins would have been nice, he did finish well in 2 of the four races, and in the end just appeared like a horse that never got over the rigors of the Triple Crown schedule.

          • Stevie

            There is no doubt you have to hold this stable in high regard,they do amazing work with amazingly bred horse’s.In orb’s instance I believe they blew this one,i believe for some reason too much was put into the exercise rider’s opinion of the benefit’s of keeping orb at fair hill .I guess my take on orb didn’t impress the trainer.At fair hill I’m sure orb enjoyed the atmosphere,the turn out,relaxing,this normally would make all the sense in the world after tough three year old races .It makes sense,if you believe there was nothing physically wrong and he just needed a freshening,but they were giving him therapy but the wrong therapy.After the derby this horse fell way below expectations do to his dysfunction,and had he continued to race ,with each race he would have gone downhill ,this is why he was retired.I don’t have much patience or respect for closed mined people who are not open to ideas and techniques that are proven to be successful but they might be not be familiar with this to me is ignorance, not wanting to know or learn something new to them,but that’s the majority in the horse biz .Most trainers prefer the magic of chemical enhancement ,it’s quicker,it’s cheaper and it give’s them the feeling of power that they have an edge and they feel that they’re the wise guy’s ,improving a horse they just claimed through chemical enhancement or cashing a beefed up payoff that would have otherwise finished up the track or simply proud of themselves that they just put one over and duped the betting public,while half of the people gambling ,supporting the sport can’t get a fair shake scratch their heads “how did that horse win” and the other half are wondering is this sport legit or maybe…and twenty four hours later they are no longer questioning and waiting for the next turf race but I guess one of the wonders of the sport.Hey,it keeps me around but believe me it’s the horse not the people.Is this considered a rant? Stevie

          • Pebbles

            It is tough to learn a horse. This is why Allen Jerkens was so special. He would take the time to learn his horses and treat each one differently because they all are individuals and what works for one is unlikely to work for all.

          • Stevie

            I did not work with Allen Jerkens often but what I did notice about him he had great horse instinct ,intuition and obviously he could condition a horse but I think what made him such bigger than life personality was his kindness which I never saw personally but I’ll buy the storie’s I’ve heard ,no reason not to believe them,unless comparatively speaking because the kindness bar at nyra is a bar not set too high.I think what people didn’t realize about Allen Jerkens aside from all is attribute’s ,he was always willing to take that calculated risk against the GIANTS of the day which is what people remember.I believe this to be true because he was very astute to observing when he had a horse that was ready and when his opponent might be vulnerable .There are two horse’s that come to mind that worked for Allen,Fortitude and Action a Harborview 3yr.old.Action had 4 consecutive 2nd fin. In 1st level allow. Races. After I began my work on the horse Allen knew this had turned the corner big time,he won his next start easily,now Allen was ready for one of those Giant Killer Moments ,the upcoming Travers and Skip Away was in Allen’s crosshairs and Skip Away was carrying the burden of being heavily favored in the Graveyard the perfect storm was brewing for Allen and Action was training so well Allen began calling “HOW’S THE BIG TRAIN DOING” and the big train was waiting in the station ready to roll.Now here’s where it get’s strange time to enter for Saturdays race’s .Allen enters Action,the big train in an allow.race on the undercard.The good news is Action won his race by the length of the stretch,happy right?The bad news came about two hours later,Skip Away didn’t lift a hoof,Allen Jerkens not so happy .I was in the barn at the time working on another horse and Allen came out of his office immediately after the horse’s crossed the wire and I literally saw Allen Jerkens kick the bucket and anything else that happened to be laying around. He was one angry calculated risk taker .Will’s Way had won the big one at The Spa.Sometime’s you pull the trigger and you look like a giant killer and when you don’t,you don’t,and you’re just another trainer.stevie

          • Stevie

            Dear Pebbles,it’s encouraging to me that you are open minded enough to ask what I thought Exaggerator’s soundness indicators were.Which if you’ve been around horse’s long enough you know everybody knows everything especially when it comes to horse’s at least that’s my experience for over thirty years.I’ll make it brief,I’m not a vet but I’ve worked on horse’s with a high rate of improved performance,DRUG FREE! I have aDVD of horse’s I’ve worked on that I would be glad to share with you ,some of these horse’s you’ll be familiar with ,some stake wins some not .As far as sharing the indicators on Exagggerators unsoundness ,this I can’t do .I do this for a living ,I’m going to make public what I think is wrong with this horse but they have qualified people ,they’ll figure out on their own.But Pebbles you would be surprised how many horse’s are racing in pain ,that’s why DRUGS /PAIN KILLERS are so popular,I’ll add stimulants and blood builders to that.You would be surprised how many trainers really don’t have any idea of what to do with a horse without their vet and without the latest drug.This means the trainer who knows the sharpest ,connected vets are the most successful .The truth is if the trainer is not using some kind of pre-race meds he, can’t compete on a level playing field,unless you call me.If you were capable of helping Exaggerator’s condition I would gladly share the indicator’s of his unsoundness with you but I’m not here to educate anyone regarding lameness.I hope this clears it up a little bit ,you’re earlier response sounded like my opinion hit a nerve.Just giving my opinion and I’m usually correct ,I hope I didn’t just spend my time responding to you if you were being sarcastic,with my intuitive gifts,I might be right.Stevie

  • Romanella

    If Exaggerator doesn’t like this track why keep.him at Belmont where he has to train and on these wide turns
    Am I wrong? I certainly am not a trainer.

    • tony a

      Well if he found it tiring it will condition him well but that wasn’t the reason he didn’t run well anyway.

      • Stevie

        Tony I believe you are one the sane one’s.Why can’t there be transparency?I’m glad you asked.GREED… NYRA GREED…How much money would nyra have lost had Exaggerator not raced?Dont’t tell me he passed the vets.Don’t tell me he didn’t handle the Belmont surface.The horse was lame,there are different degrees of lameness.He was sound enough to get to to gate and start,which I’m sure all nyra was concerned about.Keith and Kent,between a rock and a hard place unless they truly didn’t know of his dysfunction.During the running I’m sure Kent’s primary concern was not winning the Belmont but to be accutly aware of when the horse with dysfunction would start showing signs of distress and protect Exaggerator and wrap him up to avoid a catastrophic injury.The horse racing public has no idea they were defrauded by NYRA,NYS racing and gaming comm. and nyra and state vets.This is a total disgrace to all horse’s ,to the betting public and to the humane treatment of horse’s.You know something, I have no idea of what I’m talking about,forget everything I just said I must be delusional none of what I said is true,however it is possible. Stevie

        • tony a

          Seriously, I had said to many that with no rain Exaggerator wouldn’t hit the board, also Stevie the tickets were already sold so it wouldn’t affected anything. The Belmont Stakes just like the other 2 is an event and the crowd will be built in to 60,000 with up to 100 on a Triple Crown try plus the under card is far better than the Derby and Preakness.

          • Stevie

            This horse surely moves up on the off going,unfourtunatly the bel.stakes a fast track coincided with exaggerator getting injured after the Preakness or during it’s running.If his problem was simply the fast track or distance or any other handicapping factors I believe he would have run slightly better which tells me it was primarily a physical dysfunction the main cause of his under performance.Yes I am crazy and certified are you certified?Probably not.

      • Stevie

        Tony,I’m glad you came to realize that Exaggerator was sore ,which was his reason for a poor performance in the Preakness.Stevie

    • Pebbles

      They are hoping the track will condition him. He did not seem to mind the surface in his previous training there. It was only that final work where there was a hiccup. And for my two cents it was fatigue more than anything that hurt him. He had a tough 6 race schedule starting with the San Vicente, San Felipe, Santa Anita Derby, and then the TC. Two races on sloppy, tiring tracks. It takes a lot out of a horse.

      The fact remains in 7 weeks or less he will be a Saratoga and hopefully he likes the surface up there.

  • Rachel

    It’s all good…he’s a super little horse, any of us who are high on him aren’t coming off him any time soon…a great summer ahead, a lot like the year of fun we had with Street Sense, Curlin, Hard Spun, Any Given Saturday, Tiago et al…that was a fun year right down to the end!

    • Ida Lee

      I’m with you Girl !!!!

    • Bev

      Well said Rachel. This stuff happens all the time. Best to just figure it out and move on. He’s still a champ. So far he’s the best kid Curlin has out there. I hope he gets some rest and we’ll see him later on. AND hopefully pictures while he’s resting? hint hint.

    • Stevie

      Exaggerator was injured during the Preakness but I believe nyra bullied Keith into starting him solely for financial gain,so nyra would not lose the take coming through the windows.Do you think nyra is capable of doing this ?I would even consider this defrauding the betting public by NYRA.

  • Marvin Gardens

    The handwriting was on the wall after his last work. Lead changes, floating the turn etc. There is always a reason for why a horse will do something out of character and usually it’s not a good one.

    • ds oklahoma

      What do I know Im just an old man.

    • Stevie

      Exactly! You maybe old but you know your stuff.Horse was a little off but I’m sure they will have him ready for Saratoga.Good luck to the bros. Stevie

  • Sampan

    His previous tough races just caught up with him.
    Some good well deserved R & R and he’ll be back as good as ever.

  • Gotchagold

    no, Jim Dandy, Haskell baby! He’s going to bounce back as good as new!

    • Michael W.

      I also hope he bounces back but I believe he should not run at Saratoga.

      • Pebbles

        Well that is the plan. He will be stabled up there and train over the track. His running style is much more conducive to the Jim Dandy/ Travers than to the Haskell which usually favors speed horses.

    • Pebbles

      Haskell does not favor his style of coming from far off the pace, unforutnately.

      • Gotchagold

        True, but I think it can be won from way out of it although I can’t give you a example except maybe Point Given. And I like Exaggerator, but he’s no Point Given.

        • Pebbles

          Especially if a horse like Nyquist enters the race. I think he can beat Gn Runner who is pointing there. I believe Creator will be headed to the Jim Dandy. And Texas Red went to the JIm Dandy last year as a prep for the Travers, so I would think that is where Exaggerator goes too. Hopefully Swipe will be back on the track and maybe he can enter.

  • Charles Smith

    Keith D. was very frank and forthcoming. It wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last time a fancied runner struggles over the deep, sandy Belmont strip.

  • affirmed

    while not an Authority, on Racing, only that being a Race Horse, I won the triple crown, is all that I can say about being a Race Horse!.. however I do know that we Horses, at times like some surface, and I believe that no matter what , EXAGGERATOR is Mudder, and by now his connections should have figured this out! they can get Lucky to win again, only that they have to get the MUDDY, SLOPPY, GOOEY, wet, Race Track to run his Best! and I wont bet him unless he gets those surfaces, to run on! so until then , he will just be a needle in a Haystock to me! ..I only speak for myself.. and I am AFFIRMED , I already won a TRIPLE CROWN.

  • ridingtowin

    So they throw the horse under the bus instead of admitting that they bad a terrible race strategy decision by laying close to the pace?

  • Carlo Ara

    Very good wet track horse, nothing more nothing less. He was spent after the Preakness. Once I saw the 5-2 special odds offer on TVG, I knew this horse was doomed in the Belmont Stakes.

  • bruce

    Caudal hoof pain !

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram