Exaggerator's Preakness Win a Lesson in Race Strategy

Exaggerator's Preakness Win a Lesson in Race Strategy

Category : News - Sun 22/05/2016 - 10:02 EDT

In what proved to be a much different race than most expected, Exaggerator with jockey Kent Desormeaux won a smart tactical battle.

Whatever the track conditions, it was always expected that the early part of the Preakness Stakes was going to be fast. Given there were a number of horses in the field that wanted to be on the lead, any two of them not named Nyquist could have been dueling it out early. Although he likes to be forward placed, Nyquist isn't a horse that has to be first all the time, so it was a surprise that he was the one in the speed duel with Uncle Lino rather than Awesome Speed or Stradivari or Laoban. Instead of settling off the pace, Nyquist was making it, in a too-much-too soon first quarter mile of 22.38 seconds.

Exaggerator moved forward earlier than usual

The question for Exaggerator coming in was whether he should continue to try and beat Nyquist coming with one run from way back, or if it was possible to stay closer and still have enough in the tank to make his move in the stretch. As the race unfolded, Desormeaux had him do a little of both. He was more than 11 lengths off the lead of Nyquist after the first one-quarter mile, but closed that gap to less than three lengths by the time they had gone three-quarters. At that point Exaggerator was able to settle into an easy stride behind Nyquist and the lead pack, and then had plenty in reserve when Desormeaux asked him to go at the top of the lane. 

Rail spot proves to be the best part of the track

Outside of smartly judging the pace, Desormeaux made the now obviously correct decision of taking Exaggerator down on the rail, a place where no one else wanted to be. Holes opened for him on the fence, and once inside, Exaggerator was able to move forward unbothered by traffic. Taking the shortest route around also helped him save for his finishing kick, as it did for second-place finisher Cherry Wine, the only other runner that spent most of his trip down on the rail.   

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