Preakness winner Exaggerator returned to the worktab Tuesday morning at Belmont Park, breezing five furlongs in 1:00.92 with jockey Kent Desormeaux. It was his first work since April 30, a week before his runner-up finish in the Kentucky Derby, and the Keith Desormeaux-trained colt is expected to face 12 rivals in Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
“I think the best answer I can say is, in comparison (to his last workout), he was the same. Good energy, lots of fluidity,” Kent Desormeaux said. “So, all systems go.”
Exaggerator, who upset previously undefeated Derby winner Nyquist in the May 21 Preakness at Pimlico, arrived in New York on May 29. Connections praised the Curlin colt’s ability to recover quickly.
“That’s a good thing being the same after two races in a little over four weeks today. It’ll be five weeks on Saturday,” Keith Desormeaux said. “As a trainer, the time is of secondary importance. You want to see the horse recover after the work. If I get back to the barn and he’s bug-eyed and he’s sweating and he’s panting, then that means he struggled over the track. When I got back to the barn, his sweat had already dried up. He had a nice calm, confident look in his eye and he was under control, so it looks like we’re in good shape.”
“(After the work) his recovery was 20 feet. He took a deep breath, I turned him around, he sucked some air in and walked home like he had just been stable walking,” Kent Desormeaux said. “He did switch leads early. I probably knocked him off balance. It was probably my fault. It was no concern of mine. I gave it to him, he floated the turn for maybe 20, 40, 50 yards. I asked him to come back to center which for me is the two path. He straightened away to the eighth pole, I asked him to quicken and he was full of life and full of speed.”
Keith Desormeaux, starting his first horse in the Belmont, a race his brother won in 2009 with Summer Bird, watched the breeze from the box seat area at the finish line above the winner’s circle.
“(Kent) made the perfect comment to me when (he) said he has never been on his left lead that long. That’s exactly right. These are huge, sweeping turns here. He wasn’t accustomed to being on that left lead that long, so that’s why he switched to his right early at the five-sixteenths pole. It’s a perfect reason,” Keith Desormeaux said. “Regardless, it wasn’t a concern.”
Exaggerator is expected to be a heavy favorite. His projected rivals are Brody’s Cause, Cherry Wine, Creator, Destin, Forever d’Oro, Gettysburg, Governor Malibu, Lani, Seeking the Soul, Stradivari, Suddenbreakingnews and Trojan Nation.
Entries will be taken and post positions drawn Wednesday at 11 a.m. (ET) at the Rock Center Café and Summer Garden in Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.
Photo courtesy of Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club