Sloppy Surface Fits Exaggerator As He Powers Home to Win Preakness
Exaggerator showed his strength and stamina in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, seizing the lead at the top of the stretch to splash home on a sloppy track for a 3 ½ length victory over Cherry Win and heavy favorite Nyquist.
Exaggerator was patiently handled leaving the three-eighths, and angled out to be six wide entering the stretch. But he took over from there and forged past Nyquist and then kicked clear and held firm to the finish with jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard.
“I had a dream trip today,” jockey Kent Desormeaux said. “It was an amazing race, and Exaggerator is an amazing horse.”
But trainer Keith Desormeaux, Kent’s younger brother, was concerned in the early going. “I wanted to strangle him when I saw him go the rail,” Keith said to laughter in the postrace news conference. “All these other jockey’s realize it’s a quagmire by the rail, and I’m like, ‘What’s he doing?’
But in winning his third Preakness, Kent knew exactly what he was doing. He said he made a 90-degree turn to get to the rail when he saw the inside open up. “I was on the fence and they all stayed wide. These turns, you want to paint the fence. We did, they didn’t. And, not for nothing, but knowledge is power.”
Exaggerator, the 5-2 second choice, won for the third time in four lifetime races in these conditions, and in similar fashion to his Santa Anita Derby win. He returned $7.20, $3.20 and $2.40, and won $900,000 for the Preakness win. Cherry Wine returned $9.80 and $4.20, and Nyquist paid $2.20 to show. The $2 exacta with Cherry Wine paid $88.40, and a $2 trifecta returned $148.20. A Preakness betting preview highlighted the winner Exaggerator and exotics payoffs.
The winning time for the race was 1:58.31 on a sloppy track after rains returned to Pimlico shortly before the eighth race Saturday. It rained in Baltimore overnight and well into the morning before letting up shortly before noon. And on this day at Pimlico, Exaggerator rained on Nyquist’s parade at the Preakness.
A sloppy track is classified as one that is saturated with water and has standing water visible. A muddy track is wet with no standing water because it has seeped down into the base.
Nyquist, the 3-5 favorite lost for just the first time in nine races. He dueled with Uncle Line up front for the first mile, including a wicked opening quarter mile in 22.38 seconds. But he ceded command to Exaggerator leaving the three sixteenths but continued to give willing pursuit before finishing third as 17-1 shot Cherry Wine closed gamely in the final 1/16 and bobbed by a nose to get second.
In spite of the rain and temperatures that hovered in the mid-50s, track officials estimated the crowd to be 134,000 — a Preakness record.
Next up for Exaggerator is the Belmont Stakes, where Kent Desormeaux will shoot for his eight Triple Crown victory. “We’ll be there with bells on.”