05/25/2016 6:31PM

Perfect storm for Exaggerator

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Beaten in all four of his previous battles with Nyquist, the talented Exaggerator benefited from a perfect storm to finally turn the tables on his archrival in last Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. 
 
First, the rain. 
 
In four starts over "off" going, Exaggerator now boasts a record of 3-1-0 (Beyers of 101, 103, 92, 86) with wins in the Preakness, Santa Anita Derby and Delta Jackpot. His lone defeat on a wet track occurred in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last fall. In that race, he was beaten a length by Brody's Cause. Exaggerator is a rock-solid horse on any surface, but he sure travels sweetly over a moisture-filled track. 
 
Second, the pace.
 
As Nyquist battled hard with Uncle Lino through the fastest opening quarter mile in Preakness history (22.38), Exaggerator bided his time while saving ground at the rear of the field. When the pace slowed on the backstretch, Exaggerator crept closer under Kent Desormeaux and the duo were in perfect striking position entering the far turn. 
 
Desormeaux pushed the button on the bend and angled Exaggerator out for a three-wide bid entering the stretch. Despite John Velazquez's best efforts, aboard Stradivari, to keep Desormeaux pinned to the inside, Exaggerator simply was too much horse for Stradivari at that juncture. He blew past the Pletcher-trained colt, took aim on the pacesetters and was soon in front. Exaggerator understandably became leg-weary in the stretch, but he had enough left to fend off a rallying Cherry Wine and a game Nyquist. It was a great ride and trip from behind a fast and contentious pace.
 
"I had a dream trip today," Desormeaux told track publicity after the Preakness. "I was on the fence and they all stayed wide. These turns, you want to paint the fence."
 
The early fractions cooked Nyquist's goose. The other pace horses finished seventh (Uncle Lino, vanned off), ninth (Awesome Speed) and tenth (Collected), but Nyquist was still battling it out to the end. Although this was his first blemish from nine starts, he lost nothing in defeat. 
 
Racing fans disappointed that Triple Crown dreams were dashed immediately pointed the finger at Nyquist's rider, Mario Gutierrez. Nyquist's greatest asset is his tactical speed, but Gutierrez seemed intent on sending the Derby winner straight to the front. Uncle Lino wouldn't yield, however, and the two California-based 3-year-olds knocked skulls entering the backstretch. If Gutierrez was a hair more patient passing the stands the first time, allowed the lead to Uncle Lino and was content to track that one from the outside, the results might have been different. 
 
To his credit, Nyquist's trainer, Doug O'Neill, deflected criticism from his rider with some classy post-Preakness thoughts. "I just really wanted to see a good, clean trip and trouble free," O'Neill told track publicity. "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. 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.’"
 
Cherry Wine received a patented Corey Lanerie ride as he saved every inch of ground before picking up the tired horses in the stretch. He came with a good late kick, but had the run of the race from a pace standpoint. Stradivari, making only the fourth start of his career, was outsprinted early and seemed a bit headstrong once angled to the inside and confronted with slop kick-back. He did relax on the backstretch, tried to go with Exaggerator entering the turn and finished evenly on the outside. Considering his relative inexperience, he gave a solid effort. Lani, outrun as usual, needed to be tapped on the shoulder by Yutaka Take to maintain interest as he raced far behind on the backstretch. He was stopped twice in the stretch before rallying belatedly and galloped out nicely after the fact.
 
 
Unfortunately, Nyquist emerged from the Preakness stricken with a fever and an elevated white blood cell count that will keep last year's 2-year-old champion out of the Belmont Stakes. 
 
Exaggerator, however, will try and get a leg up on 3-year-old championship honors by taking two-thirds of the Triple Crown. The Preakness winner is a very likeable colt, a blue-collar throwback that shows up with a good race just about every single time out. He'll likely go off a pretty heavy favorite in the Belmont, but might have to deal with a dearth of early pace in New York.
 
***
 
Dan,
I can't help but deduce that Nyquist could or should have secured placing if it wasn't for Mario's lack of willingness (may not be a correct word) to do so in last 1/16th in general and final 70 yards in particular.  It sure looked like he wasn't "all over" Nyquist in the final stages near the wire. What is your assessment about Mario's body language during this time?
GBL
 
I agree that Gutierrez seemed to wrap up on Nyquist when it became apparent that he wasn't winning the race, and that it's possible the colt would have been second if ridden out through the wire. From a gambling standpoint, it's bad luck if you had Nyquist to complete the exacta under Exaggerator, but Gutierrez didn't want to beat up on the colt with the Belmont three weeks away (he wouldn't have known that Nyquist would come out of the race sick and unable to compete in New York). 
 
***
 
Dan, when was the last time the Preakness winner ran 2nd in the Derby?
Mike Rutledge
 
Prior to Exaggerator, the ill-fated Prairie Bayou in 1993 was the most recent Kentucky Derby runner-up to win the Preakness.
 
***
 
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 5/10/16 - 5/16/16:
 
1. WAKE FOREST (GER) - 101 - Man O'War Stakes (G1) - 1 3/8 Miles (Inner Turf) - Belmont - 14May16-10BEL
2. A.P. INDIAN - 99 - Decathlon Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 14May16-10MTH
2. STRIKE CHARMER - 99 - Beaugay Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Belmont - 14May16-8BEL
2. THUNDERGRAM - 99 - Alw 35640C - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - 14May16-5AP 
5. ACAPULCO - 98 - Unbridled Sidney Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 14May16-8CD
6. CAVORTING - 97 - Ruffian Stakes (G2) - 1 Mile - 14May16-7BEL
6. HOBBITS HERO - 97 - OC 62k/N2X - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 15May16-6SA 
8. UNIFIED - 96 - Peter Pan Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - 14May16-9BEL
8. WIN THE SPACE - 96 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 15May16-2SA
10. BIGGER PICTURE - 94 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/4 Miles (Inner Turf) - 12May16-1BEL
10. BULLARDS ALLEY - 94 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 1 1/8 Miles - 12May16-2CD 
10. FRENCH QUARTER - 94 - Clm 40000(40-37.5) - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) -  13May16-8WO  
10. GLACKEN TOO - 94 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 14May16-9SA
10. MIDNITE POPPA - 94 - OC 25k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - 14May16-7NP 
10. TURCO BRAVO (CHI) - 94 - Flat Out Stakes - 1 3/8 Miles - 15May16-8BEL
16. OFFERING PLAN - 93 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Turf) - 14May16-6BEL
17. GENEROUS KITTEN - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - 15May16-7CD 
17. YOURDREAMSORMINE - 92 - Bull Gator Stakes - 7 Furlongs - 13May16-6GP 
19. GOLD SHIELD - 91 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 1 1/4 Miles (Inner Turf) - 12May16-5BEL
19. HUNT (IRE) - 91 - OC 75k/C -N - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 12May16-5SA 
19. SPACE MINE - 91 - OC 35k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - 15May16-6PRM
22. SWELL - 90 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - 13May16-8BEL
23. CLASSIC SALSA - 89 - OC 62k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - 15May16-3BEL
23. DIAMOND EARRING - 89 - OC 16k/N1X -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 12May16-7GP 
25. AIRE BUENO (CHI) - 88 - OC 62k/C - 1 Mile (Turf) - 14May16-5GP 
25. ARCATURE - 88 - Singletary Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 14May16-3SA
25. BREAK THE SILENCE - 88 - Clm 25000(25-20) - 1 Mile 70 Yards - 14May16-5IND 
25. STILL KRZ - 88 - OC 20k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - 15May16-9MTH
25. SWEET ACCLAIM (IRE) - 88 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 13May16-4CD 
25. TRY YOUR LUCK - 88 - Alw 51784N1X - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 14May16-10CD 
 
*Wake Forest's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.
 
Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 5/17/16 - 5/23/16:
 
1. NOBLE BIRD - 110 - Pimlico Special Handicap (G3) - 1 3/16 Miles - 20May16-7PIM
2. ALWAYS SUNSHINE - 103 - Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) - 6 Furlongs - 21May16-5PIM
3. SECOND SUMMER - 102 - Californian Stakes (G2) - 1 1/8 Miles - 22May16-9SA 
3. W. B. SMUDGE - 102 - OC 100k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - 19May16-2CD 
5. BEN'S CAT - 101 - Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 20May16-8PIM
5. CONQUEST ENFORCER - 101 - Queenston Stakes - 7 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 21May16-8WO 
5. EXAGGERATOR - 101 - Preakness Stakes (G1) - 1 3/16 Miles - 21May16-13PIM
5. ONUS - 101 - OC 80k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Turf) - 21May16-2BEL
5. WHERE'S THE WIDGET - 101 - Steady Growth Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles (Tapeta) - 23May16-8WO 
10. BRADESTER - 100 - Majestic Light Stakes - 1 Mile - 21May16-10MTH
10. DEFER HEAVEN - 100 - OC 30k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - 21May16-8MTH
10. TAKEOVER TARGET - 100 - Dixie Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 21May16-12PI
10. TOUCHOFSTARQUALITY - 100 - OC 80k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 21May16-3BEL
14. LADY SHIPMAN - 99 - The Very One Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 21May16-8PIM
15. O B HARBOR - 98 - Governor's Stakes - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 22May16-8EMD
15. SARATOGA JACK - 98 - OC 35k/N1X -N - 1 Mile - 22May16-5PRX
15. WILD DUDE - 98 - Kona Gold Stakes (G2) - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 21May16-9SA 
18. IT'S ALL RELEVANT - 97 - Alw 77000N1X - 1 Mile - 21May16-9BEL
19. DISCO CHICK - 96 - Skipat Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 20May16-3PIM
19. THATCHER STREET - 96 - Opening Verse Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 21May16-11CD 
21. PAULASSILVERLINING - 95 - Vagrancy Handicap (G3) - 6 1/2 Furlongs - 21May16-11BEL
21. PHLASH PHELPS - 95 - OC 32k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - 20May16-12PIM
21. SENSITIVELY - 95 - OC 75k/C -N - 6 Furlongs - 19May16-7SA 
24. AMERICAN FREEDOM - 94 - Sir Barton Stakes -  1 1/16 Miles -  21May16-11PIM 
25. ALABAMA TIDE - 92 - Alw 49592N1X - 6 Furlongs - 21May16-7CD 
25. COLLEEN'S SAILOR - 92 - Clm 30000(32-30) - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 20May16-1WO 
25. HAPPYNESS (GB) - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/4 Miles (Inner Turf) - 18May16-8BEL
25. HAY DUDE (GB) - 92 - Clm 50000(50-45) - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 20May16-5SA
25. R. GREAT ADVENTURE - 92 - OC 80k/C - 1 Mile (Turf) - 21May16-3AP 
25. SWEET LITTLE MAN - 92 - Alw 71433N1X - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - 23May16-4WO 
25. WABEL - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 7 Furlongs - 22May16-9CD 
 
*Noble Bird's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.
 
***
 
Video stakes analyses for many of the weekend's major stakes will be available later this week at http://www.drf.com/videos
 
You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.
 
Matt Bernier, Mike Beer and I will be on for free and fun live handicapping analysis at 4pm ET on Saturday for coverage of Belmont, Monmouth, Santa Anita and more. Please join us at http://www.live.drf.com.
 
***
 
Congrats to Pat Gavin for winning last week's HandiGambling challenge.
 
Rick M and SR Vegas' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
 
Let's go with the Arlington Matron for this week's HG exercise. 
 
PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.
 
SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to update all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...
 
 
HANDIGAMBLING version 2016:
 
Let's remember WHY we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.
The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses and why we're betting them the way we are. We are not asking for a novel but SPARE A SENTENCE OR TWO outlining your HANDICAPPING ANGLES and/or THOUGHT PROCESSES about WAGERING.
 
1. Start your post with HG or HANDIGAMBLING to find your entry in a thread.
2. You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose that is available for that HG race. Anyone going over the $100 limit will be DISQUALIFIED.
3. Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog prior to the start of the designated race. SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF YOUR POST. Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST SIGN YOURSELF AT THE END (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to identify who you are.
4. (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes. Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.
5. Separate your analysis from the wager and use the PROGRAM # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.
6. If any of the rules listed above aren't met, the wager is subject to review which can lead to disqualification of your entry.
 
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.
The winner will receive a "60-Card Quarterly Formulator Past Performance Plan"
 
As an example :
 
HG 2016
The speed in this race are #1 Alpha, #2 Beta, and #8 Ocho. I like the works for layoff horse #5 Cinco who can sit off the pace. Lots of speed in here, so this could set up for a closer like  #6 Six Flags and I like the trainer's stats in these conditions. I’ll put the closer over the speed.
 
HG wager:
$10 EX   6 /   1,2,5, 8  = $40
$5 TRI   6 /   1,2,5,8  /  1,2,5,8  =  $60
Total $100
Thanks Dan!
Harpo
 
A MORE DETAILED ANALYSIS  IS  ALWAYS  APPRECIATED !
REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.
 
ALSO, IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE FOLLOWING WEEK'S RACE, PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM NO LATER THAN THE FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY MORNING (A SATURDAY RACE IS MOST IDEAL)

 

AttachmentSize
WAKE FOREST.pdf797.78 KB
NOBLE BIRD.pdf756.96 KB
Copy of HG 5 21 16 Preakness Stakes .xls54 KB
HGAPMATRON.pdf191.42 KB