Going into this year’s Saratoga meet, Curlin had no juvenile graded stakes winners.
Now, he has two.
Off the Tracks got the meet off to a great start when she swept to victory in the Schuylerville Stakes (GIII) on opening day. Today, Exaggerator joined her after a gritty, professional victory in the Saratoga Special (GII).
Exaggerator shipped to Saratoga after making his first two starts in California. On June 5, he debuted in a five-furlong maiden special weight on the dirt at Santa Anita. He went off at 28/1, and ran to it. He finished a well-beaten fifth. However, the form of that race has been franked in time. The winner, Nyquist, dominated the Best Pal Stakes (GII). Second-place Annie’s Candy graduated next out, and finished third in the Best Pal.
Exaggerator did his part, as well, to make his debut race a key heat. He returned in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Del Mar on July 25. The public figured he had a shot. Instead of being a longshot this time, he went off the 2/1 chalk in a field of nine. Once again, he ran to his odds. Showing his ability to handle adversity, he got caught behind horses on the turn, sent wide into the stretch, and nailed longshot Miner’s Light on the wire.
This victory was strong enough for trainer Keith Desormeaux to send him across the country for the Saratoga Special. As much trouble as he saw in his maiden race, he saw even more in the Special.
Exaggerator settled at the back of the pack as longshot John Q. Public flew early. John Q. Public set the quarter in 21.60: not slow for a six-and-a-half furlong juvenile race. Through the far turn, even-money Saratoga Mischief made his run on the leader, increasing the pressure from the outside. Approaching the five-sixteenths pole, Saratoga Mischief had his head in front.
Exaggerator was making a run of his own down the rail. Advancing as the field rounded the turn, he was full of run, but caught between the rail, the grinding Saratoga Mischief, and the fading John Q. Public. Coming past the three-sixteenths marker, a possibly horse-sized gap opened up between the pair. Junior Alvarado sent Exaggerator right through. Saratoga Mischief put up a challenge, but Exaggerator had the most late. He passed the favourite inside, and hit the wire three-quarters of a length in front.
Exaggerator became Curlin’s second fourth-crop stakes winner, after Off the Tracks. He became his sire’s fourth juvenile graded stakes winner; La Grange and Golden Actor both won stakes races last year. His winnings in the Saratoga Special also notched his career earnings up to $163,120 — enough to send him past Golden Actor as Curlin’s top juvenile earner to date.
Beyond the sire statistics, Exaggerator looks like a horse with a bright future. As a Curlin baby, he stands to improve with time and age. Also, based on what he has shown on the track, he has a will to win. He not only came out of both his maiden win and the Saratoga Special with some trip notes — he also came out with a win photo. Look for more from this tenacious, mature colt as he stretches out.