Exaggerator: defeated Nyquist to win the Preakness Stakes last time out
PICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport
By Nicholas Godfrey 2:27PM 9 JUN 2016
USA: Trainer Keith Desormeaux has voiced concerns about the draw for hot favourite Exaggerator after the Preakness Stakes victor landed post-position 11 in a 13-runner field for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.
Although the final leg of the Triple Crown is a 1m4f event, Desormeaux is worried about how quickly the first turn arrives. “The gates here are placed around the wire, which means there’s not that much of a run-up,” said the trainer.
He added: “It’s not as inconsequential as it is in the other two races, so I’d prefer not to be on the outside, because we have to take back and drop in. Three-sixteenths (to the turn) is a decent run, but not enough to say that the gates don’t matter.”
After ending Nyquist’s Triple Crown bid in the Preakness, Exaggerator is generally available at 11-8 with British bookmakers for Saturday’s $ 1.5 million event, with Suddenbreakingnews next best on the 6-1 mark.
Desormeaux’s brother Kent, back in the saddle after a week in rehab addressing alcohol issues, sounded rather less concerned than the trainer about the gate. “I think it’s a wonderful post position,” said the Hall of Fame jockey. “I can’t see any horses that will cross over on him…we can establish position, preferably, without getting a grain of sand in his face.”
Exaggerator’s rivals feature a number of familiar faces from the Kentucky Derby, where he was runner-up ahead of Suddenbreakingnews (fifth), Destin (sixth), Brody’s Cause (seventh), Lani (ninth), Creator (13th) and Trojan Nation (16th).
Preakness runner-up Cherry Wine and fourth-placed Stradivari also try their luck again, while front-runner Gettysburg was a late entry and should inject some pace into a field full of closers.