After an uneventful four-hour van ride from Pimlico Race Course in Maryland, Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Exaggerator arrived at Belmont Park at 12:10 p.m. EDT May 29 for his next assignment, the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 11.
Upon exiting the horse trailer, which was driven by trainer Keith Desormeaux's assistant and girlfriend, Julie Clark, Exaggerator was greeted by about two-dozen people, mostly members of the media and New York Racing Association personnel.
Exaggerator, led by his groom, Victor Vargas, made a quick pit stop into stall 15 in Barn 29, his home for the next two weeks, before coming out for a stroll in the barn's spacious courtyard. The road trip on a warm spring day evidently didn't take much, if anything, out of the son of Curlin , as he threw in a few playful bucks and pawed at the ground.
"That's him (being) mellow," Clark, who was sporting an "I Love New York" t-shirt, said with a laugh.
Speaking to Exaggerator's light training schedule since winning the Preakness by 3 1/2 lengths May 21, Clark said it is nothing out of the ordinary for the horse or the stable.
"That is very normal for him," Clark said. "They usually walk two days after a race and then walk on Thursdays and Sundays, and then we fit in another walk day—just to be make it more exciting for the hotwalkers."
Clark echoed the sentiments of Desormeaux, who said after the Preakness that the quick recovery time Exaggerator exhibits in the aftermath of his races is one of things that makes the horse so special.
"By Sunday (the day after the Preakness), he was squealing and on his toes. By Monday, he was a handful, so he doesn't notice when he runs. He is the same," Clark said.
"The first day back (to train on May 24), he was actually pretty strong, and the second time, (May 28), he was very relaxed," she continued. "We have a different rider, Peedy (Landry), who just has a way of putting the horses to sleep and we love that. He went on a loose rein and was happy to go whatever speed Peedy wanted him to, without trying to dictate."
Unless there is a downpour during training hours, Clark aid Exaggerator will gallop on the Belmont Park main track May 30. Heavy rain is in the forecast, starting early Memorial Day.