a missed opportunity for Exaggerator

Exaggerator, Curlin’s second Classic winner, has been retired to stud.

On one hand, it hardly comes as a surprise after such disappointing races in the Travers (GI) and the Pennsylvania Derby (GII).  It made sense as a time to give him a break.

But, to call an end to his racing career?  How disappointing.

In a sense, Exaggerator was an anomaly.  He was more precocious than a lot of Curlin babies.  He won second time out, won the Saratoga Special (GII) last summer, and kept his form through November, when he won the Delta Jackpot.

Right in line with his fellow Curlin babies, time did him well.  He came back even better at three, and found his best at the right time.  He made a huge rally to win the Santa Anita Derby in a blowout, rallied for a good second behind Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby, then turned the tables by winning the Preakness.  Though he was off the board in three of his last four starts…that final money finish was a win in the Grade I Haskell, where Exaggerator took to the Monmouth slop as well as his sire did nine years ago.

After finishing eleventh in the Travers and seventh in the Pennsylvania Derby, a break made sense.  Exaggerator has been going full steam since February, facing the best of his class over and over again.

However, assuming he is as sound as Elliot Walden says he is — why not just rest him now and then bring him back at four?  He is a Curlin baby who was very good at three, and we have already seen a few good three-year-old Curlin babies come back even better at four.  His first Classic winner, Palace Malice, was excellent at four.  Stellar Wind, last year’s Santa Anita Oaks (GI) winner, has toppled Beholder in a pair of Grade I races this year.

The way next year’s handicap division is looking, why couldn’t Exaggerator go on a tear?

Yes, Exaggerator already has a good resume for stud.  He is a son of a top sire, a Classic winner, and a precocious juvenile.  That resume lacks one thing: form past age three.  It would be some great blood to know we have: a classy horse, a Classic horse, with form at two, three, and older.

It’s hard to call a horse a “tough, durable throwback” when they only raced at two and three.  A horse can only prove that on the racetrack, with time and age, and Exaggerator will never get that chance.  What a shame.

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