11/21/2015 6:54PM

Desormeaux brothers team up with Exaggerator to win Delta Jackpot

Coady Photography
Delta Jackpot favorite Exaggerator, with Kent Desormeaux aboard, gets up by a neck over Sunny Ridge.

VINTON, La. - It’s a family affair with Exaggerator.

The racing brothers Keith and Kent Desormeaux have a knack for winning big races together, such as last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with Texas Red. Saturday, the men returned to their home state of Louisiana and took down one of its biggest prizes in the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot.

Exaggerator was a determined, neck winner over Sunny Ridge in what was the richest race of the year at Delta. It was another 4 3/4 lengths back in third to Harlan Punch. The Jackpot win continued a run of success for the Desormeaux brothers, who also teamed to win this year’s Jim Dandy with Texas Red.

“The last year has been unbelievable,” said Keith Desormeaux.

Exaggerator ($3.80) was prominent from the start of the Jackpot, taking over from Iron Dome after an opening quarter in 23.49 seconds. Exaggerator proceeded to lead the field through a half-mile in 47.53, and then was pressed by Sunny Ridge through six furlongs in 1:13.47. Exaggerator and Sunny Ridge continued on to the wire, with Exaggerator edging that one while covering 1 1/16 miles on a muddy track in 1:46.48.

“It wasn’t to his liking today, but he had plenty left,” said Kent Desormeaux, who was winning his second Jackpot behind the inaugural running in 2002 with Outta Here. 

Exaggerator picked up $600,000 for the win, and also earned 10 points toward Kentucky Derby eligibility. Sunny Ridge, Harlan Punch, and fourth-place finisher Found Money also earned points, on a scale of four, two, and one as part of a preference system administered by Churchill Downs. 

Keith Desormeaux said the Jackpot is the final start of the year for Exaggerator. The horse won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special in August, ran second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity in October, and then was a troubled fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his start leading up to the Jackpot.

Exaggerator races for the Texas-based businessman Matt Bryan, who is from the Dallas area. Desormeaux, who is now based in Southern California after racing in Louisiana and Texas, said the bulk of his owners are from Dallas.

“Dallas has got to be my angel city,” he said. “They must like Cajuns in Dallas.”

Keith Desormeaux would love to hit next year’s Kentucky Derby trail with Exaggerator.

“He’s bred for it and he obvious has the precociousness and the athleticism,” he said.  “The Derby is still a long way away, but it would be a fun trip to take the connections to Louisville.”

Exaggerator is a son of Curlin and was bred by Joseph B. Murphy. The horse has now won 3 of 6 starts and $983,120.