10/27/2015 1:51PM

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: Exaggerator can make it a Desormeaux double

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Debra A. Roma
Exaggerator shipped from California to win the Saratoga Special in August.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Winning one Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was a fantasy for trainer Keith Desormeaux. Winning two straight? Well, it’s not that far-fetched.

A year after his Texas Red pulled a 13-1 upset in the Juvenile at Santa Anita, Desormeaux has brought two runners to Keeneland for this year’s $2 million Juvenile, and at least one, Exaggerator, has a realistic chance of winning.

Exaggerator, the runner-up in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity here four weeks ago, is listed as the 6-1 fourth choice on the track’s morning line in what appears to be a wide-open 32nd renewal of the Juvenile. The favorite has won only three of the last 16 editions of the race.

The 1 1/16-mile Juvenile is race 9 on Saturday, with a post time of 4:10 p.m. Eastern.

Texas Red rallied from last to win the Juvenile by nearly seven lengths last year. Desormeaux thinks Exaggerator has what it takes to make it two straight for his stable.

“It was exciting to be a part of the Breeders’ Cup,” Desormeaux said of last year. “This year, I think the horse is legit in all ways – pedigree, past performances, and the way he’s training – so it’s pretty exciting. So, the quest is a real possibility, it’s not just a pipe dream.”

Exaggerator, a son of Curlin, won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special in August following a cross-country ship from California. He got sick shortly after the race and missed some training time. His works were inconsistent going into the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. He made the lead in midstretch only to be run down by Brody’s Cause, losing by one length.

“He was in control at the eighth pole, nothing else to do,” said Desormeaux. “He’s a young horse. He might be thinking, ‘What else do you want from me?’ ”

Desormeaux added that Exaggerator didn’t get tired coming out of the race.

Though Desormeaux didn’t like Exaggerator’s first work after the Breeders’ Futurity, which was done by himself, he did like last Saturday’s move in company over this track.

Desormeaux also will send out Swipe, who like Exaggerator is owned by Big Chief Racing. Swipe is 1 for 6, with three consecutive runner-up finishes to Juvenile entrant Nyquist in graded stakes.

“We know Exaggerator is better, but Swipe’s earned it,” Desormeaux said.

Kent Desormeaux, Keith’s brother, rides Exaggerator from post 9. Victor Espinoza rides Swipe from post 12 in the 14-horse field.

In the Breeders’ Futurity, Brody’s Cause defeated Exaggerator with a sustained rally from next to last under Corey Lanerie. It was the colt’s second win from as many starts on dirt.

“I think he can move forward,” trainer Dale Romans said. “I think he’s a very talented horse who is way ahead of where his pedigree says he should be. There’s nothing but upside for him.”

Lanerie rides Brody’s Cause in the Juvenile.

Romans also will send out Unbridled Outlaw, who like Brody’s Cause is owned by the Albaugh Family Stables of Dennis Albaugh and Jason Loutsch. Unbridled Outlaw had to steady at a key juncture of the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs and settled for third.

“To go through what he did and still get third in the Iroquois was super impressive,” Romans said.

Greenpointcrusader, a son of Bernardini, enters the Juvenile off a strong effort in the Champagne Stakes, a one-turn mile at Belmont. He got jostled at the start and rallied from sixth to win by 4 1/2 lengths. He has had two works over Keeneland’s main track, including a bullet half-mile move in 46.20 seconds on Oct. 23.

So, trainer Dominick Schettino thinks Greenpointcrusader will handle the track. Now, Greenpointcrusader must prove he can handle two turns.

“I don’t think it’ll be a problem the way he trains,” Schettino said. “Mentally, being as intelligent as he is, I don’t think it’ll be an issue. I guess we’ll see Saturday, but I have no concerns right now. I’m happy.”

There does not appear to be a lot of speed in the Juvenile field, and with a clean break under jockey Joe Bravo, Greenpointcrusader figures to be up close.

Nyquist, undefeated in four starts, with three graded stakes wins, could be the primary speed from post 13.

“The plan is to go, just leave there running and then play it by ear and either be on the lead or thereabouts,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “We talked about [how] we won [the Kentucky Derby] from the 19 hole with I’ll Have Another. There was a lot more run to the turn then. Having speed being outside like that isn’t a bad thing.”

O’Neill also runs Ralis in the Juvenile. Ralis won the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga on Sept. 5 and finished sixth in the Champagne last out. O’Neill said Ralis’s blood work was a little off when he got to Keeneland in early October, but it appears fine now.

Cocked and Loaded won the Iroquois at Churchill, making an early move to the leaders and sustaining it to the wire to win by two lengths.

Rounding out the main body of the field are Conquest Big E, Riker, Rated R Superstar, Tale of S’avall, Isotherm, and Waterloo Bridge. Siding Spring and Tom’s Ready are on the also-eligible list and need defections to occur by 8 a.m. Friday in order to draw into the field.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 11 Isotherm. Trainer George Weaver is 9-3-0-2 with a $8.37 ROI over the past five years going turf to dirt in routes with juveniles. – Mike Hogan

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