Exaggerator concludes juvenile season on a high note with game Delta Jackpot victory

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November 21st, 2015

After a non-threatening fourth as the second choice in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), Exaggerator gained a measure of redemption in Saturday’s $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot (G3), gamely withstanding Sunny Ridge’s bid through the stretch to post a neck decision.

Second passing the finish line the first time, Exaggerator took the lead midway on the first turn and never relinquished it on the muddy Delta Downs track. Early splits were recorded in :23.49, :47.53 and 1:13.47, and the Curlin colt completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.48.

Ridden by Hall of Famer and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Kent Desormeaux, the younger brother of trainer Keith Desormeaux, Exaggerator enhanced his reputation in the Kentucky Derby points’ race. He jumped to second on the leaderboard with 16 points total, earning four points for a runner-up finish in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland two starts previously and two points for the aforementioned fourth in the October 31 Juvenile at Keeneland.

And given the talent he’s displayed at two and a pedigree built for classic distances, Exaggerator rates as a serious Kentucky Derby contender at this stage for owner Big Chief Racing LLC.

“Today he just floated along and he had plenty left,” Kent Desormeaux said. “He can really run.”

Exaggerator broke his maiden the second time out at Del Mar in late July and captured the Saratoga Special (G2) at Saratoga in his third start. With Saturday’s $600,000 payday, the dark bay has now earned $983,120 from a 6-3-1-0 record.

The winner was favored at 4-5 in the 10-horse Jackpot field. Sunny Ridge, who bet down as the 4-1 second choice following a runner-up in the October 3 Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, offered an excellent move into contention on the far turn and gamely tried to overhaul Exaggerator before settling for second.

It was another 4 ¾ lengths to the 17-1 Harlan Punch in third. Found Money, the 9-2 third choice, wound up nearly 10 lengths farther back in fourth and was followed under the wire by Whitmore, Forevamo, Texas Jambalaya, Memories of Winter, Cowboy Classic and Iron Dome.

Bred in Kentucky by Joseph B. Murphy, Exaggerator was purchased for $100,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale. He’s the first stakes winner out of the stakes-placed Vindication mare Dawn Raid, a daughter of the stakes-placed Bold Ruckus mare Embur Sunshine and a half-sister to Canadian champion Embur’s Song and stakes winner Ten Flat.

Keith Desormeaux is looking forward to Kentucky Derby season with the exciting prospect and blamed himself for the disappointing Breeders’ Cup Juvenile effort.

“The fact that he was over aggressive in Breeder’s Cup wasn’t his fault, it was mine,” the conditioner said. “I had him too on edge.”

Desormeaux also trains Juvenile runner-up Swipe and both Kentucky Derby contenders will be based at Santa Anita during the winter.

Exaggerator photo courtesy of Delta/Coady Photography