With jockey Kent Desormeaux in the irons, the son of Curlin completed a half-mile in :51.69 on the main track.
Back at the barn after the work, Desormeaux said, “It was an easy drill. I just let him stretch his legs a little bit. He felt fine—good energy. The agility is (still) there.
“I’ve banged my head hard trying to figure out (the Belmont Stakes performance),” the Hall of Fame rider added. “I don’t know. I could put my finger on several things, but none of them are proven facts. It’s just our job as the human element in the game to try to pinpoint why he didn’t perform. I think he said, ‘I’ll get you all next time.’”
Keith Desormeaux, Exaggerator’s trainer, was on hand for the work, which represents the first step on the road to the colt’s next start, the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course July 30. The long-range goal is the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 27.
“He went a little slower than we expected,” the trainer said, “but I told Kent on the way out just to let him cruise around there—it’s his first work back. (Kent) might have overcompensated, but he went nice and smooth and galloped out nicely. It’s a good work to crank him up. We’ll get more serious next weekend.”
Big Chief Racing, Head of Plains Partners and Rocker O Ranch’s Exaggerator will leave Belmont Park July 12 or July 13 for Saratoga, where he won last year’s Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II).
“We’ll get a couple of days of galloping over the track and then we’ll give him a good breeze, weather permitting, (July 16),” said Desormeaux, who added with a smile, “and it better be faster than this morning.”
Desormeaux hadn’t seen Exaggerator since a couple of days after the Belmont Stakes. The 3-year-old has been in the care of Desormeaux’s assistant, Julie Clark, while at Belmont Park.
“He looks good. He’s put on some weight. He’s legs are still really clean. He’s still his vibrant self,” Desormeaux remarked. “He looks like he bounced back (from the Triple Crown) fine.”