Two horses who had chased Nyquist home in last October’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) rolled to major Kentucky Derby (G1) prep victories on Saturday. After Brody’s Cause prevailed in the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland, Exaggerator followed suit with a 6 1/4-length triumph in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) at a sloppy Santa Anita.

Exaggerator, who was also second to Nyquist in the February 15 San Vicente (G2), is known to like an “off” track. Runner-up to Brody’s Cause in a muddy Breeders’ Futurity (G1) last fall, Exaggerator went on to capture the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) in the mud.

Owned by Big Chief Racing, Head of Plains Partners, Rocker O Ranch et al, Exaggerator is trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by his Hall of Fame brother, Kent Desormeaux. He was sent off as the 3-1 third choice here, having finished third last time out to Danzing Candy and Mor Spirit in the March 12 San Felipe (G2).

On Saturday, however, Exaggerator got the track conditions he likes. Anchored far back early as Danzing Candy set a very fast pace, Exaggerator made a slingshot move around the far turn and bounded clear by 6 1/4 lengths. He negotiated 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.66 and paid $8.80 to win.

Mor Spirit was best of the rest by 2 1/4 lengths from Uncle Lino, and Danzing Candy tired to fourth in the eight-horse field.

With the Santa Anita Derby being worth a total of 170 points toward the Kentucky Derby, the top four boosted their totals. Exaggerator took home the 100-point windfall, leapfrogging to third in the standings with 126 points to his credit. Mor Spirit’s 40 points as the runner-up raised his total to 84. Uncle Lino, who received 20 points for third, now has 29. Danzing Candy only scored 10, but thanks to his prior victory, he owns 60 in all.

For the complete Santa Anita Derby recap, including more background and analysis, as well as all of the post-race quotes, check out the blog. 

Photos courtesy of Benoit.