Exaggerator to van to Pimlico, unlikely to breeze before Preakness
Edited from Preakness and Santa Anita press releases
Kentucky Derby runner-up Exaggerator walked the shedrow at trainer Keith Desormeaux’s Churchill Downs barn Friday morning.
“Keith decided to give him an extra walk day,” said Julie Clark, assistant to Desormeaux. “He will gallop Saturday and ship Sunday. Keith is going to be at Pimlico Monday and the idea has been tossed around of a light, half-mile breeze Tuesday.”
Desormeaux later enlarged upon his plans when speaking with Santa Anita’s Ed Golden. Exaggerator will van, not fly, from Churchill Downs to Pimlico, and the trainer now sounds more inclined to skip a breeze.
“I couldn’t get a flight on the day I wanted,” Keith explained, “so we’re just going to van him up there, which is not a big deal for me. It might be less pressure on him, less stressful in the long run to van. It’s about a 10 or 11-hour ride, pretty long, but I decided that the timing was better than waiting on the flight and arriving Tuesday night.
“This gives me two more days, but he’ll just gallop and jog into the race. I think that’s the right thing to do with a two-week turnaround, but I’ve seen trainers go both ways. Some give their horse a light breeze a few days out, but the recent trend has been to gallop into the race.
“That seems more sensible to me.”
Exaggerator has a high energy level, according to Clark.
“He has a lot of energy,” Clark said. “He is not mean; just playful, and I like that. He has limitless energy, and I am like, ‘Are you tired yet?’”
Clark picked up on that limitless energy the first time Exaggerator came east last summer.
“He flew to Keeneland and was vanning to Saratoga and the truck broke down and they had to wait for another van,” Clark said. “He galloped two days before (winning) the (Saratoga) Special (G2), which is one of my favorite races. (Jockey) Junior (Alvarado) was waiting with him, being patient and waiting for a hole and Exaggerator was like ‘I’m going through.’ The next day he was like he never ran at all.”
Photo courtesy Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.