Exaggerator’s powerful late kick results in convincing Preakness victory

Profile Picture: James Scully

May 22nd, 2016

Exaggerator utilized late-running tactics to perfection in the Preakness Stakes, rallying into contention by the far turn and blowing past Nyquist in upper stretch to post a 3 ½-length decision. After closing boldly, but belatedly, for runner-up honors to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby, the Curlin colt handed the juvenile champion his first setback in the fifth match-up between the talented 3yos.

A change of tactics earlier this year has proven to be the difference for Exaggerator, who raced on or close to the pace last year and chased Nyquist through wicked splits when opening 2016 with a runner-up effort in the San Vicente (G2). Trainer Keith Desormeaux and his brother, Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, altered styles for the San Felipe (G2) in mid-March, turning Exaggerator into a one-run closer, and his form improved greatly over the past two months.

Exaggerator blew the doors off the Santa Anita Derby competition with a similar move to the one witnessed in the Preakness, winning both races in the slop. But he’ll be a formidable presence regardless of track conditions in upcoming starts.

The dark bay colt settled about a dozen lengths off the pace in eight during the early stages of the Preakness and took advantage of a hot pace up front involving Nyquist. I was surprised to see the Kentucky Derby winner dueling with a longshot speedball considering how tractable he had proved at Churchill Downs and in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Nyquist performed gamely, missing second by a nose, but he was clearly in trouble by the head of the lane, with Exaggerator ready to pounce to his outside.

Exaggerator will now likely head to the Belmont Stakes three weeks later, attempting to become the ninth horse in the last 16 years to capture two legs of the Triple Crown.

He's developed into a dynamic closer and Thoroughbred racing fans will be looking forward to seeing Exaggerator and Nyquist square off again.

Exaggerator photo courtesy of Ronnie Betor/