clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Belmont Stakes 2016 contenders: Exaggerator vs. the field

Can Exaggerator go the distance versus a strong and mostly rested field of 13 in New York?

Often, the Belmont Stakes takes what we think we know and turns it on its head. At a mile and a half, the race is a true test of endurance. Contenders that look unbeatable in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness arrive in New York only to look all-too-average by the finish line.

Will that be the case with Exaggerator, as well? The 3-year-old colt trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by his brother, jockey Kent Desormeaux, appears to pick up steam as a race progresses. Had the Kentucky Derby lasted a little longer, today we might be talking about Exaggerator going for a Triple Crown on Saturday rather than just adding another point to an already long list of accomplishments.

New York Racing Association odds maker Eric Donovon has set the morning line odds at 9-5 in Exaggerator's favor, which sounds great. Until you convert that into a percentage and find that is slightly more than a 35 percent chance Exaggerator is crowned in the blanket of carnations after the race. The field has a 65 percent chance of pulling off an upset.

We'll know soon whether that comes to pass, as the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes can be seen at approximately 6:37 p.m. on NBC, with online streaming provided by NBC Sports Live Extra.

The Derby horses

It's not uncommon for a number of horses who ran in the Kentucky Derby to skip the Preakness. So, after a 20-horse field, filling both the main and auxiliary gates at Churchill Downs, only 11 horses were entered at Pimlico two weeks later. Of those, only a handful (Nyquist, Exaggerator, Lani) were Derby carryovers. It just doesn't make sense for most trainers to push a horse into three races across a scant five weeks.

And with hopes of a Triple Crown dashed for Nyquist, the Kentucky Derby winner who opened his career 8-for-8 -- as well as concerns over his health after a high white blood cell count and fever following the Preakness -- only Exaggerator and Lani will be entering all three races.

They'll welcome back from familiar faces, however. Suddenbreakingnews finished 4-1/2 lengths out of the Derby and has 10-1 odds. Destin finished about two lengths back of him in sixth. The Todd Pletcher trained horse has 6-1 odds. Brody's Cause, who was seventh in the Derby at about 9 lengths back, will compete, as well. He's at 20-1 odds. Creator, a Steve Asmussen trained horse, finished 13th in Kentucky at 18 lengths back. He's got 10-1 odds on Saturday.

Trojan Nation is also back after a 16th-place showing 37 lengths back at Churchill Downs.

The Preakness contenders

Cherry Wine is back after a second-place finish at the Preakness. Known for being strong on a wet track, the Dale Romans trained horse can look forward to rain in the forecast for the Belmont. But will he be able to overcome Exaggerator? He's got 8-1 odds currently.

Stradivari, trained by Todd Pletcher, will be another to watch. He ran strong at the Preakness, finishing fourth at a half-length behind Cherry Wine and Nyquist and four lengths behind Exaggerator. There's a lot to like about this horse, and he has the second-best morning line odd sat 5-1. He should again be a factor at the finish.

Lani runs everything

Lani, the UAE Derby winner who was trained in Japan, is back again. Each race he's shown a little better. He finished in ninth, 10-1/2 lengths back, in Kentucky. At the Preakness he was fifth, 5 lengths back. He's said to be working out for distance by trainer Mikio Matsunaga, so this might finally be the race he finishes in the top three. Odds of a victory are long, at 20-1, but he might be worth keeping an eye on. He'll start from the 10th position, directly to the inside of Exaggerator. The ornery colt could turn out to be disruptive to the Preakness winner's ideal race, if nothing else.

The newcomers

Governor Malibu (12-1), Gettysburg (30-1) and Forever d'Oro (30-1) are the three chief newcomers. Governor Malibu has two second-place finishes, including the Grade II Peter Pan on May 14 at Belmont, and a victory in 2016. Trained by Christophe Clement and ridden by Joel Rosario, he has the best chance among the three.

Gettysburg seems like a horse more included to set a fast early pace and put some pressure on the closer than anything else. He'll be trained by Steve Asmussen for this race after being with Todd Pletcher in the past.

Forever d'Oro will be racing for only the second time after his maiden on May 29. Sired by Medaglia d'Oro, who finished second in the 2002 Belmont, there's some hope he'll be able to go the distance and follow in his father's footsteps. But without much to go on, it's hard to say.