Preakness Stakes (gr. I) victor Exaggerator is on the move to the Jersey Shore to take on rival Nyquist in a rematch of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) at the Betfair.com Haskell Invitational (gr. I). The announcement is a bit of a surprise after trainer Keith Desormeaux said Exaggerator would most likely skip out on the Jim Dandy (gr. II), which takes place a day before the Haskell.
“If we really want to compete for 3-year-old colt of the year, we need to race Nyquist. … and the Haskell sets up. It’s a grade I worth a lot of money, so it’s very exciting,” said co-owner Matt Bryan (of Big Chief Racing).
In the Kentucky Derby, Nyquist took home the crown and Exaggerator finished in the third. Two weeks later at the Preakness Stakes, the results flip-flopped, with Exaggerator winning and Nyquist finishing third. There was no rematch to be had in the final leg of the Triple Crown, with Nyquist skipping out on the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Exaggerator finished 11th at Belmont.
“We’ve gone back and looked at that race. I’m not going to say certain things publicly, but I can tell you I think we could have been right in the mix of everything if we’d changed a couple things,” said Bryan. “That’s Keith saying that. He’s the trainer—he’s the man—not me.”
Exaggerator is one of only two horses to have competed in each leg of the Triple Crown; the other was Lani.
“I might have been second-guessing the figure of his works, but I’m not second-guessing the horse is very fit, very sound, very happy, very confident, (and) very everything, as far as the characteristics we look for in a horse that’s ready to run,” said Desormeaux. “He’s got such a foundation on him from running in all three Triple Crown races, plus plenty of racing early in the season, and I just couldn’t leave him idle when I know our horse is sitting on go. (Assistant) Julie (Clark) has done a great job getting him ready.”
The Haskell has a scheduled post time of 5:49 PM EST and will be telecast on NBC.