Exaggerator: all roads lead to the Travers Stakes at Saratoga
PICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport
By Peter Scargill 7:32AM 1 AUG 2016
Report: USA, Saturday
Monmouth Park: Haskell Invitational (Grade 1) 1m1f, 3yo, dirt
EXAGGERATOR came with a sweeping run under rider Kent Desormeaux to power past favourite Nyquist and claim another major success on sloppy going.
Trained by Keith Desormeaux, Exaggerator was only added to the $ 1 million contest 24 hours before Thursday’s post-position draw but was able to make the most of the off track in New Jersey, just as he had done when downing Nyquist in the Preakness Stakes.
Nyquist had defeated Exaggerator the time before in the Kentucky Derby before being beaten in the Preakness after being hassled on the lead. Once again jockey Mario Gutierrez attempted to make all on the colt on his first outing since the Preakness, but was not given any peace by Rafael Bejarano on American Freedom and Nyquist faded badly in the straight to be fourth of the six runners.
For Exaggerator it was a stylish return to form after he produced a lacklustre effort in the Belmont Stakes in June. Dropped out early by Desormeaux, Exaggerator improved down the back before coming with a sweeping run on the home turn and powering clear in the straight to win by a length and a half from American Freedom.
“He broke right on the money,” said Kent Desormeaux. “They were going at it pretty well up front and I said to myself ‘could this be happening?’ Up the entire backstretch he was just galloping and gaining on them. I had to snatch him up a little bit into the far turn. I didn’t want him to go too soon.
“The ‘two path’ seemed to be the best part of the track, but that spot was already taken, so I had to go outside and around horses. Once I called on him he exploded. When we got clear I just kept him to his task. He’s a really amazing horse with a devastating turn of foot.”
Exaggerator had to survive an objection from Bejarano, who claimed he had been tightened up by Desormeaux’s move in the straight, but connections now have the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on August 27 as their next target.
Plans remain uncertain for Nyquist, although trainer Doug O’Neill did not want to criticise his rider for his aggressive tactics on the favourite.
“Mario’s hands were kind of tied from the rail so we were forced to ride a little harder than we wanted to,” O’Neill said. “I’m still proud of [Nyquist] and we will regroup, see how he comes out of it and go from there.
“I thought Mario rode him perfectly. That’s how he had to ride, with confidence, and he did. No excuses.”
Also on Sunday
Del Mar: Bing Crosby Stakes (Grade 1) 6f, 3yo+, dirt
TWENTY four hours on from the shock 1-10 defeat of Beholder, owner B Wayne Hughes of Spendthrift Farm was back in the winner’s enclosure after Lord Nelson (Bob Baffert/Flavien Prat) scored.
It was a third win from three starts this season for Lord Nelson, who romped to a four-length win and who has become “a serious sprinter” according to his trainer.
Jockey Flavien Prat told the bloodhorse.com: “This horse was special today. He ran huge. He might be as fast a horse as I’ve ever sat on.”