Facts, Figure and Quotes from the 141st Preakness Stakes
Exaggerator Turns Tables in Preakness
By Dick Downey
Posted May 21, 2016
Photo from @PreaknessStakes
Any thought of consecutive Triple Crown bids was put to rest on a rainy day at Pimlico when Exaggerator powered down the stretch to win the Preakness Stakes.
Under Kent Desormeaux, the Keith Desormeaux trainee came from off the pace to overtake a tiring Nyquist in upper stretch and prevail by 3 1/2 lengths. After Exaggerator's runner-up effort in the Kentucky Derby, a Derby-Preakness exacta box repeat was upset when Cherry Wine came up the rail to get a nose in front of Nyquist at the finish line.
Meanwhile, the Desormeaux brothers became the first siblings to train and ride a Preakness winner.
Uncle Lino, Nyquist and Awesome Speed broke from posts 2, 3 and 4 and sped up the stretch the first time together, with Nyquist in the center. Awesome Speed appeared to crowd Nyquist, leading Mario Gutierrez to cock his head to the right and give the rider of Awesome Speed, Javien Toledo, a long look before opening a little space between them.
Nyqyuist went into the turn to the outside of Uncle Lino as the pair were in the opening stage of a duel that would last a mile. Uncle Lino was ahead after the first quarter in 22.38, and Nyquist led through a half-mile in 46.56 and six furlongs in 1:11.97. Leaving the far turn, Nyquist put away Uncle Lino, but as soon as that happened, Exaggerator blew by Nyquist to lead by 1 1/2 length at the furlong marker and win going away.
Exaggerator was eighth in the 11-horse field at each of the first two calls, trailing by 11 1/2 and 6 1/2 lengths, respectively. After six furlongs he was only 2 1/4 lengths behind. Cherry Wine, 10th at each of the first three calls, was 24, 19 and then 11 3/4 lengths in arrears before mounting his late run.
Exaggerator crossed the finish line in 1:58.31 on a track rated sloppy. The time was 15/100 of a second faster than American Pharoah's 2015 effort over a track turned into rivulets by a violent thunderstorm but was otherwise the slowest Preakness since 1956 when Fabius was timed in 1:58 2/5.
Stradivari, the subject of an $80,000 win bet made at Laurel Park during the morning, finished fourth, beaten four lengths. The remaining order of finish was Lani, beaten five lengths, Laoban, Uncle Lino, Fellowship, Awesome Speed, Collected and Abiding Star.
Exaggerator did something unaccomplished since 1993 -- he won the Preakness after running second in the Kentucky Derby. The feat was last accomplished by Prairie Bayou.
The public's second choice at 5-2, Exaggerator returned backers $7.20 to win, $3.20 to place and $2.40 to show. With Cherry Wine's odds at 17-1, he paid $9.80 and $4.20. Nyquist's show payoff was $2.20 at 7-10 odds.
The $2 exacta paid $88.40, the $2 trifecta was worth $146.20 and the $1 superfecta returned $317.00.
The Preakness purse of $1,500,000 will be distributed $900,000 to the winner, $300,000 to second, $165,000 to third, $90,000 to fourth and $45,000 to fifth.
A son of Curlin, Exaggerator is out of Dawn Raid, by Vindication. He was bred in Kentucky by Joseph B. Murphy and was sold at the September 2014 Keeneland Yearling Sale for $110,000. He's owned by Big Chief Racing LLC, Head of Plains Partners and Rocker O Ranch.
The win was Exaggerator's fifth in 11 starts, with three seconds and a third. His share of the Preakness purse pushed his earnings to $2,971,120.
Keith Desormeax said after the race they will to go New York and prepare for the Belmont Stakes "with bells on." The Belmont will be run on June 11.
This time last year, American Pharoah would prepare to make history with the first Triple Crown sweep in 37 years. For now, fans will have to settle for an Exaggerator-Nyquist rivalry going forward, with some Cherry Wine mixed in for good measure.
Pace Fractions: 22.38, 46.56, 1:11.97, 1:38.19, 1:58.31
Exaggerator's Fractions: 24.68, 47.86, 1:12.42, 1:38.69, 1:58.31. He ran the first quarter-mile in 24.68, the second quarter-mile in 23.18, the third quarter-mile in 24.56, the fourth quarter-mile in 26.27 and the final three-sixteenths mile in 19.62.
Performance Relative to Odds
Best Relative Performance by a Low-Odds Horse: Exaggerator won at 5-2.
Worst Relative Performance by a Low-Odds Horse:Nyquist was third at 7-10.
Best Performance by a High-Odds Horse: Cherry Wine was second at 17-1.
Worst Performance by a High-Odds Horse: Abiding Star was eleventh at 40-1.
Pimlico claimed that a record crowd of 135,256 watched the race. This announcement was met with hearty skepticism in the pressbox.
Total handle on Pimlico’s 14-race program, which featured seven other stakes, was a record $94,127,434, eclipsing the previous mark set in 2005 of $91,028,704. Total handle was up 10.8 percent over 2015 and attendance was up 2.5 percent over last year’s 131,680. Total in-state wagering was up 3.1 percent.
Finish Position, Name, Finish Margin
2. Cherry Wine, second beaten 3 1/2 lengths
3. Nyquist, third, beaten 3 1/2 lengths, nose
4. Stradivari, fourth, beaten 4 lengths
5. Lani, fifth, beaten 5 lengths
6. Laoban, sixth, beaten 12 lengths
7. Uncle Lino, seventh, beaten 13 1/4 lengths
8. Fellowship, eighth, beaten 18 3/4 lengths
9. Awesome Speed, ninth, beaten 21 1/2 lengths
10. Collected, tenth, beaten 22 1/4 lengths
11. Abiding Star, eleventh, beaten 36 3/4 lengths
PREAKNESS STAKES 141 CHART BY POST POSITION
|1||Cherry Wine||2d||17-1||20-1||Corey Lanerie||Dale Romans||3d Toyota Blue Grass Stakes|
|2||Uncle Lino||7th||34-1||20-1||Fernando Perez||Gary Sherlock||1st California Chrome Stakes|
|3||Nyquist||3d||7-10||3-5||Mario Gutierriez||Doug O'Neill||1st Kentucky Derby|
|4||Awesome Speed||9th||51-1||30-1||Jevian Toledo||Alan Goldberg||1st Frederico Tesio (via DQ)|
|5||Exaggerator||1st||5-2||3-1||Kent Desormeaux||Keith Desormeaux||2d Kentucky Derby|
|6||Lani||5th||30-1||30-1||Yutaka Take||Mikio Matsunaga||9th Kentucky Derby|
|7||Collected||10th||14-1||10-1||Javier Castellano||Bob Baffert||1st Lexington Stakes|
|8||Laoban||6th||66-1||30-1||Florent Geroux||Eric Guillot||4th Toyota Blue Grass Stakes|
|9||Abiding Star||11th||40-1||30-1||J. D. Acosta||Ned Acosta||1st Parx Derby|
|10||Fellowship||8th||58-1||30-1||Jose Lezcano||Mark Casse||4th Pat Day Mile|
|11||Stradivari||4th||8-1||8-1||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||1st Keeneland Allowance|
POST-RACE TRAINER QUOTES
Winning Trainer Keith Desormeaux (Exaggerator): “I’m just glad I get to walk across this track and take a picture on that side. When you get to take your picture taken on the turf course, you know you’ve done well.
“It’s kind of like the Santa Anita Derby, to know that you have the race won pretty much at the eighth pole, you’ve got to enjoy it.”
“I hope it’s not only because of the muddy track. The horse has been training phenomenally. I think there was a conscious decision on the training approach between the Derby and here. My philosophy was to take it as easy as possible because you’re not going to gain any fitness in those two weeks. I did what I could to get him happy and fresh and strong and I’ve always said he’s always had a great ability to recover and he showed it today. [The Belmont] is three weeks from today, so I’ll be there with bells on.”
Dale Romans (Cherry Wine, 2nd): ““I’m proud of my horse, proud of the jockey. Exaggerator looked great all week and Keith did a good job with him. It’s a special thing, two brothers in a classic like this. It was like the O’Briens (father-son) winning the Breeders’ Cup. That’s the special thing about the sport, it proves it’s a family affair." Romans said Cherry Wine will go to the Belmont Stakes along with Brody’s Cause.
“The way the race set up and the track being muddy and we were in the one hole. He knew what I was talking about, he’s a big Calvin Borel (rider of 50-1 Derby winner Mine That Bird in 2009) fan. I told him to ‘give him the Mine That Bird trip, sit way back, past the mile make sure you catch the last one.’ That’s the only part of the instructions he didn’t listen to.”
(On longtime owners Frank Jones and William Pacella) “One of the greatest things that has happened in my career was when the horse was coming back, and I was congratulating them and they told me how proud they were of me and the horse. That was a special moment in my career.”
Doug O’Neill (Nyquist, 3rd): (Did slop affect your horse?) “I don’t know. Hats off to Exaggerator and Team Desormeaux. What a great run. I didn’t think we could get beat, to be honest with you. Nyquist is such an amazing horse and he still ran a great race. We’ll kind of figure this all out, watch some replays. I didn’t get a chance to talk with Mario (Gutierrez). Nyquist still ran a huge race.
(On Belmont) “We’ll huddle up with Paul and Zillah Reddam and the whole crew and see how he comes out of it. It looked like he came back and got unsaddled in good shape. Maybe we’ll try again.
“It’s a bummer, of course. Our horse, God, he’s such an amazing horse. I can’t wait to see him in a little bit, give him a big kiss and a pat on the head because he’s still a winner in our book. They’re not machines. Being 8-for-8, we kept thinking that this horse is never going to lose, but they all lose any one time or another. We’ll be OK.
“They went pretty good early on. I just really wanted to see a good, clean trip and trouble free. I think Mario did a wonderful job with that. He didn’t bring it today and more than anything Exaggerator just ran a monstrous race. Hats off to them.
“When he swung out, I thought he might come back, Exaggerator had that momentum and Nyquist had done so much early in the race and just couldn’t keep pace. He still gutted it out and almost held on for second. I’m very proud of him.
(On weather) “It’s Mother Nature. What are you going to do. Pimlico did a great job of it with it raining all day long.
“I thought we were good all the way around. I didn’t have the greatest angle but there was some point there where it just seemed like they were going to get into a head to head battle and all of a sudden I could see Mario going around him. Oh my God, I didn’t know Exaggerator was that far ahead of him. I’m just so proud of him and I still feel like a winner.
“We just wanted a clean trip. We thought we had the best horse and wanted to ride him like the best horse and not try to get too cute and get perfect positioning. Him going fast early was really my idea, thinking ‘he’s the best horse, take it to them.’ If we’re going to get beat, let’s get beat being aggressive and not trying to get cute and get in trouble.”
Todd Pletcher (Stradivari, 4th): “I thought he ran well. He had to move around a bit a couple of times. He had to make a couple of different moves, but I though all in all for his fourth start of his career, it was a big effort. I think he handled the footing fine, but it made for a tricky race, the way it unfolded.”
Mikio Matsunaga (Lani, 5th): “He broke from the gate slow as usual. After the wire he passed everybody. This was much better than the Derby. I really feel on a fast track he would have been closer. The race we’re looking forward to now is the Belmont because it’s longer.”
Eric Guillot (Laoban, 6th): “He climbed the whole race. He hated the track. He struggled in the mud. He was relaxed but he just struggled.”
Gary Sherlock (Uncle Lino, 7th): Gary Sherlock said an attending veterinarian determined that Uncle Lino sustained a minor tendon injury. “He was bleeding from one leg and may have gotten stepped on That makes more sense than where he finished. He was running awfully good for a long way.”
Mark Casse (Fellowship, 8th): “I don’t think we had an excuse. There was big pace and it looked like he made a nice middle move, but he flattened out about the 5/8ths-pole.”
Jorge Duarte, assistant to Alan Goldberg (Awesome Speed, 9th): “He ran his race. He pressed a hot pace and they all got tired. A lot of horses had speed coming in so we expected a hot pace.”
Bob Baffert (Collected, 10th): “We just didn't have enough horse. Too far for him, I took a crack at it. It makes you appreciate ... Pharoah made it look so easy you forget how hard it is. We had fun. We thought we might have a chance. He tried, but he just wasn't good enough.”
Ned Allard (Abiding Star, 11th): “You were hoping that you'd be up close, and he didn't break quite sharp enough and wasn't in the position to take advantage of what he's been able to do. Just bad racing luck. We might try to find a little easier spot.'”
POST-RACE JOCKEY QUOTES
Winning Jockey Kent Desormeaux (Exaggerator): “I can’t even fathom. It’s going to take a while. I’m in shock right now. I think that Nyquist had company all the way around the course. They stayed really wide. For the [trouble] I’ve had in his previous starts, I had a dream trip today. I was on the fence and they all stayed wide. These turns, you want to paint the fence. We did, they didn’t and, not for nothing, but knowledge is power.”
Corey Lanerie (Cherry Wine, 2nd): “We got a smooth trip. We broke in and had absolutely no speed. They rode around and let them come to us and he started to show his kick in the middle of the turn at the three-eighths pole. We did not encounter any trouble. We had pretty clear sailing. This one feels good.”
Mario Gutierrez (Nyquist, 3rd): “I could feel Exaggerator coming. There was nothing we could do. We swung out late but they were tough. We tried but just didn’t get there.”
John Velazquez (Stradivari, 4th): “I had a good trip. The only thing he didn’t do was relax. He went out from here to the three-quarter pole and tried to do more than I wanted him to. I got right up behind Nyquist and thought we had him, but we just didn’t have enough horse left to compete.”
Yutaka Take (Lani, 5th): “He had a good trip. The stretch was a little too short for him. We had no problems at all and he made up a lot of ground.”
Florent Geroux (Laoban, 6th): “I had a good journey. We stayed off the speed and tried to make our move at the half. Then he just stayed there. But he was fine. He should be real good next time.”
Fernando Perez (Uncle Lino, 7th): “We had some fast fractions early and I had my horse in a good position but the horses behind me were faster than my horse and I didn’t want to cause any problems so I waited to slow down. We were going a little too fast early and I know that we would have finished better if there would have been a slower pace.”
Jose Lezcano (Fellowship, 8th): “I had a really good trip. I tried to keep going but we just couldn’t stay even.”
Jevian Toledo (Awesome Speed, 9th): “I tried to keep him in the clear all the way. He gave me everything he had but he just didn’t go. The track was pretty bad. He couldn’t catch the winner and that’s the story.”
Javier Castellano (Collected, 10th): “We had a good trip. My horse was right there early with the speed. We didn’t get the best of trips the rest of the way.”
J. D. Acosta (Abiding Star, 11th): “My horse broke good and we were going fine but he does not like dirt kicked into his face and this is really the first time he got hit with mud. He ran out fine for me and I was very glad that the trainer allowed me to keep the mount.”
WINNING CONNECTIONS TRANSCRIPT
THE MODERATOR: We have Sol Kumin, Ronnie Ortowski, and Matt Bryan, the ownership group, and Kent and Keith Desormeaux, the winners of the 141st Preakness.
Q. Keith, you talked all week about the young three‑year‑olds, who can mature from week to week, race to race and you said that might be the difference between winning today and not. And it looked like that was a good read on your part when Kent's bringing him home to the wire, what's going through your mind?
KEITH DESORMEAUX: What you said, that's part of the equation. But the most important thing is this horse is ‑‑ I've repeated this for two weeks ‑‑ is his ability to recover from his efforts. And he recovered from the Derby quickly. Even today, first comment, when he pulled up here at the winner's circle was, Keith, he cooled out already.
And the horse has his heart rate was down again. His respiratory rate was almost to normal and you could see a real calm look in his eyes.
Most horses when they run that huge effort, they're bug‑eyed and rattled and sweated up even. He was totally calm. So it's partly due because he gets over this track in like a duck to water for lack of a better cliche.
But that's the main reason, his ability to recover.
Q. Kent, just take us through the race if you could?
KENT DESORMEAUX: He broke very well again. And I didn't think that the rest of the field left the gates like the Kentucky Derby. In fact, no one was actually hissing at their horses or we actually kiss at them. So I gave him two or three more jumps of bounding forward.
I noticed that everybody in front of me was, instead of moving towards the fence, moving out. So I just ‑‑ I mean, I made a 90‑degree turn to get to the fence. Tried to put him into maybe a two path, not being right on top of the fence and had an absolute dream ride.
I was able to let him just inch forward and let him just gain to the leaders slowly and quietly. We got to the three and a half, and the rail was still wide open, but I thought it was way too soon.
The horse is way too fast. If I would have punched he probably would have opened up three and maybe not make it to the wire. So from the three‑eighths to the quarter pole I was actually slowing him down, asking him to wait. And he just blew up and felt like King Kong. And when I pitched him out he did what he can do; he exploded.
And I thought, well, since I'm clear, I might as well throw some mud in their face and not let them come back. And I let him drift over in front of Nyquist and hopefully finished the job. And he did.
Q. Kent and Keith, did you guys share any kind of brotherly love afterwards? Was there a moment just between the two of you where you said something before we saw you?
KEITH DESORMEAUX: We had an embrace up there. But brotherly love, I don't know, is it different than any other kind of love? You don't need to ‑‑ when you know you have that type of love, you don't need to show it outwardly. We know what we have.
KENT DESORMEAUX: Well, just to reiterate, we should thank our parents because we have been raised to love each other dearly, and I looked at him, he looked at me and I got a fist pump. That's all that we did.
Q. Keith, there are only three of these Triple Crown races each year. The significance of winning at least one of them?
KEITH DESORMEAUX: That's it in a nutshell. Racing, this is the only time when we're part of mainstream media. It's called an American Classic for a reason. Those are some strong words.
So to finally get to win one, it's kind of hard to describe now, but it sure is ‑‑ what I'm feeling now is just an awesome confirmation of a lifetime of dedicating myself to finding and getting the best out of a horse. And also huge gratification to the man that entrusted me with that confidence, Matt Bryan.
Q. Kent took us through his ride. Could you describe what you were seeing what he was doing with the horse?
KEITH DESORMEAUX: I wanted to strangle him when I saw him go to the rail. I was, like, damn, he didn't ride a race today.
This is the only race he rode today, and I was, like, all these other jockeys realize that it's a quagmire down on the rail, and I'm, like, what's he doing. But ‑‑ welcome to my house (singsong). (Cheering) That's exactly right. That's why I can be so calm before a race because all the pressure's off of me and this is why he's in the hall of fame. Those kind of decisions. (Cheers and applause).
Q. How about when you got further into the race ‑‑ Keith, as you got further on into the race ‑‑
KEITH DESORMEAUX: Are you talking about post strangulation? (Laughter).
Then I started worrying, why in the world, if he is so close to the lead approaching the far turn, we're already three or four lengths off. I looked over at my girlfriend and said: I hope he's not asking him to be there. In other words, I hope the horse has done all of this on his own. And obviously he had, because when Kent really asked him to run, he had plenty left.
Q. Kent, similar question I asked your brother, thousands of races the significance to you to be in the saddle when you've won classics before, you won the Preakness before a couple of times. What does this mean?
KENT DESORMEAUX: It definitely is just an inward feeling of contention. That simple.
Q. Do you believe in your gut if you kept getting shots against Nyquist, did you think you would get him eventually?
KEITH DESORMEAUX: That sounds more like we would eventually grind him down. I never felt that. I always felt we had an exceptional talent in Exaggerator. And Sol Kumin and Windstar realized that, too ‑‑ one, before the San Anita Derby and one after. But it's an exceptional talent that we have in Exaggerator, not somebody that needs to grind down his opponent and you saw that today.
Q. Keith and Kent, how much does the track play into today's race?
KEITH DESORMEAUX: You can't deny, you can't deny what's happening here. These are two huge races on/off tracks. The one at San Anita Derby, I tried to play down because it was just a meltdown pace in front of us. Today, the pace was acceptable and he still ran huge.
So you have to think that the track means a lot to his performances. But his fast track performances are not bad either.
KENT DESORMEAUX: Well, I want to make it clear that, yeah, you can give a lot of creed to the mud, but I also know the body blow he took in San Felipe, I know the air brakes I had to put on at the three‑eighths pole in the Kentucky Derby. And I know for better terms I walked the track with Exaggerator warming up. I went from the 8 hole to the 2 hole right on top of the fence two or three times checking out where the best path was and I thought it was the 2 path.
So those other horses fought and battled for six‑wide when I didn't have anything but a dream ride. And if they're going to give Exaggerator that, I think on any track he would beat them all.
Q. Both of you, is there a special resonance in winning a huge race, does this mean anything special since you guys basically cut your teeth here in Maryland racing 20, 25 years ago?
KEITH DESORMEAUX: For me that's going to sink in along with the brotherly love later when you have time to reflect, but now that you say that, it's pretty cool. This is where I had my first job on the racetrack with a guy named Tommy Cavendis (phonetic) and the great Charlie Hadrey (phonetic) after him. So to start here and to win the Classic here, it's a little, what's the word, not coincidental, but special.
KENT DESORMEAUX: For me, I cut my teeth in the industry here. The owners and trainers, absolutely, put me on a pedestal, and I hope they're all very proud that they're not wrong about what they gave me, because this is where I belong, riding classics. I love it, and I was so very comfortable going around the racetrack. (Applause).
Q. Keith, have you guys thought about what's next? Do you plan to go home or to the Belmont? And do you plan on taking on Nyquist again in the next couple of weeks?
KEITH DESORMEAUX: Exaggerator has the best groom in the world who travels with him, Victor Vargas is here. I've got the best girlfriend and assistant trainer over here, Julie Clark, she's here. Petey, gallop boy, is getting on him every day. They're ready to roll. They're not going back to California. They'll just hit the roads, go north, and we'll settle in at Belmont. And we can't wait to run in that race.
Q. Matt Bryan, your thoughts as you crossed the finish line today, and you were a owner of a Classic champion?
MATT BRYAN: First off, just say thanks to Saul and Ronnie and the families here that are all here, and Keith. And Kent.
I'll tell you one thing, these boys right here are awesome. They're raised by a good momma and daddy. So that's the first thing.
And we're very blessed. So we're just excited and blessed to be here. Thank the good Lord above for this good fortune that we've had.
But the one thing that I will say that I'm probably the proudest of is to win this, with these two, and them to win it, is amazingly special for us as owners.
I mean, to have two Desormeauxes do this, I don't know if it's ever been done before, but you know what, it hasn't been done in a long time. So if it has, that's great. But if it hasn't, you know what, we made history today. So that's unbelievable.
Second of all, we got second in the Derby.
(Applause). We got second in the Derby. And I'll tell you one thing, for a bunch of guys from Texas and one Boston guy down here ‑‑ we had to put one Yankee in this organization, bunch of southern boys.
But let me tell you, we're sure proud to be a part of this. We're blessed to have Keith Desormeaux picking out these horses. The O'Neill team, Dennis O'Neill, but it starts with Keith Desormeaux. The ride is by Kent Desormeaux, but I'm going to tell you right now Keith Desormeaux, I'll put you right now, we'll put him in the hall of fame if I have anything to do with it. (Applause).
Q. Can you talk about your ownership? Matt, can you just explain how your ownership team came together?
MATT BRYAN: So my family and I, we got into horse racing four years ago. My wife, Wendy, Taylor and Logan, my daughters right here, we got into horse racing four years ago.
Keith Desormeaux picked the first horse, a two‑year‑old called I've Struck a Nerve, won the Risen Star, 135‑to‑1. You could have peeled me off the winner's circle that day, too. That was the highlight at that time.
But coming along, Ronnie came along and said, "I want to buy into some horses you've had some good luck." He's a good friend of mine and customer. And so I go back up to his office and say: Hey, we bought these ten yearlings right here, which ones do you want? Hell, I'm 65 years old; I want half of all of them. And I said: Well, okay, but Keith's going to own some of them, too.
So Keith's a part owner of Exaggerator. I'm an owner of Exaggerator. Ronnie is an owner of Exaggerator and Saul is an owner of Exaggerator. Saul came in later this year. We run this like a business. We're very fortunate. But we're not a bunch of billionaires just throwing a bunch of money around. But we're sure proud of where we are and grateful. That's how we got started.
And four years, I can't believe we're sitting here in front of the Preakness where Curlin won his race. (Applause).
He won his ‑‑ the Preakness. We won the Preakness. Now I'm going to tell you now that's awesome, Exaggerator, that's the name for that girl right here, Taylor Bryan. And Julie Clark. And there's mother ‑‑
Q. Did Taylor name the horse?
MATT BRYAN: No, it's named after her. (Laughter).
Q. Can you explain that for me? Can you explain that story, if you'd like to?
MATT BRYAN: We're in trouble ‑‑ well, us boys, we like to down in the south we tell fish stories. But those girls like to exaggerate a little bit. So we named one Exaggerator for our girls right there.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.