Classic winner and leading sophomore Exaggerator , the only 3-year-old colt with three grade I wins in 2016, has been retired from racing and will enter stud at WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky.
"We could not be more excited to add another classic winner the caliber of Exaggerator to the WinStar stallion roster," said Elliott Walden, WinStar president & CEO about the son of Curlin . "He is a sound horse that passes all physical exams, but as the only 3-year-old to test all the Triple Crown races and summer classics, he's a horse that is asking us for a rest. The fact he remains sound after 15 big-time starts in the last 16 months is a testament to his ability, consistency, fortitude, and class. He is an extreme racehorse—a tough, durable throwback to the old days, like Curlin."
A stud fee will be announced at a later date.
Exaggerator enjoyed a champion-level campaign this year, winning three of the highest profile grade I stakes for sophomores: the Santa Anita Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Haskell Invitational. He became a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) after a 6 1/4-length romp in the Santa Anita Derby, in which he earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure—the fastest among all 3-year-old colts heading into the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.
The dark bay colt was a close runner-up in the Derby before turning the tables on Derby winner Nyquist two weeks later in the Preakness. In the Haskell this summer, Exaggerator earned his fourth triple-digit Beyer of 2016—tops among all 3-year-olds in North America—at his fourth different racetrack.
"Some have questioned his record on a fast track, however, Exaggerator ran everywhere, in all types of conditions, and always faced the best, from Santa Anita to Saratoga," Walden added. "If you look at how the multiple different speed-figure makers rated Exaggerator, it actually bears out that he was as fast—or even faster—on a dry track as he was on an off track."
Ragozin's Len Friedman confirmed: "Exaggerator's outstanding effort of 4 on our Sheets back in February on a fast track was the best 3-year-old number run at that time, showing his outstanding ability on all dirt track surfaces."
Jerry Brown of Thoro-Graph agreed, and believes Exaggerator's Haskell performance towards the end of a long campaign is likely to blame for a tired horse after July: "His (Kentucky) Derby number is right in line, but his Haskell cooked him."
Exaggerator was bred in Kentucky by Joseph Murphy out of the Vindication mare Dawn Raid, a stakes-placed 2-year-old performer and half sister to Canadian champion Embur's Song. Murphy sold the colt as a yearling through Warrendale Sales for $110,000 at the Keeneland September sale to Matt Bryan's Big Chief Racing.
Bryan later brought on partners that included fellow Texan Ronny Ortowski, who owns Rocking O Ranch, and Sol Kumin, who bought 20% of the horse in the name of his Head of Plains Partnership before Exaggerator ran in the San Felipe Stakes.
"Exaggerator is a special horse," Bryan said. "He took us on the ride of our lives."
In a 16-month span, he made 15 starts at 10 different racetracks coast to coast and amassed $3,581,120 in earnings—making him Curlin's highest lifetime earner and only three-time grade I-winning son.
The colt was trained by Keith Desormeaux and was ridden throughout his 3-year-old campaign by Keith's brother and Hall of Fame jockey Kent.
"We believed in this horse from the very beginning," said Keith Desormeaux. "He is an outstanding individual with class and looks, and he's by a top sire in Curlin. He checked all the boxes for me when I bought him as a yearling. Exaggerator had a tremendous racing career, and it's rewarding that he lived up to our expectations."