By Tom LaMarra
After four losses to undefeated Nyquist, Exaggerator turned the tables with an off-the-pace victory in the $1.5 million Xpressbet.com Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 21 at Pimlico Race Course.
Owned by Big Chief Racing, Head of Plains Partners, and Rocker O Ranch, Exaggerator, a clear second choice at 5-2 in an 11-horse field, made his run along the inside on the far turn and pulled away to win by 3 1/2 lengths on a track rated sloppy. Longshot Cherry Wine, far back early, also made up ground and nosed out Nyquist, the 3-5 choice, for second.
The winner is trained by Keith Desormeaux and was ridden by his brother, Kent, who won multiple riding titles in Maryland when he began his career as a jockey.
Exaggerator, who won the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on a sloppy track, paid $7.20 to win. By Curlin out of the Vindication mare Dawn Strike, Exaggerator was bred in Kentucky by Joseph Murphy and was purchased for $110,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Reddam Racing's Nyquist, who won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), was part of an early pace war through quick fractions but he continued on gamely under Mario Gutierrez given the trip. Stravidvari, in his stakes debut, finished fourth.
The final time for 1 3/16 miles was 1:58.31.
"I can't fathom it," Kent Desormeaux said after the victory. "It's going to take a while. I'm in shock right now. I think Nyquist had company all the way around the course and stayed really wide, and I had a dream trip today."