ELMONT, N.Y., June 8 (UPI) -- Exaggerator Wednesday drew gate No. 11 in a surprisingly large field of 13 for Saturday's $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
Exaggerator, who defeated Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist in the Preakness Stakes three weeks ago, will be trying to land two-thirds of a Triple Crown when he lines up Saturday for the Belmont. Nyquist bowed out after contracting a fever the day after the Preakness.
The list of horses who lost in the Derby, then won the Preakness and Belmont, is relatively long and quite distinguished, including Native Dancer, Nashua, Damascus and Risen Star.
At 1 1/2 miles, the third jewel of the Triple Crown often is the toughest. It's the longest race most of these horses ever will attempt. For Exaggerator, who was a late-running second at Churchill Downs, it's his third hard race in five weeks and he will face some fresh rivals.
The remainder of the field includes Cherry Wine, who edged Nyquist for second in the Preakness with a late effort, and Japanese-owned UAE Derby winner Lani, who finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness.
Suddenbreakingnews, Destin and Brody's Cause -- who fifth, sixth and seventh in the Derby, are back after skipping the Preakness. Creator finished 13th in the Derby with a rough trip and also took a pass on the middle leg of the Triple Crown, as did Trojan Nation, the 16th finisher in Louisville. Stradivari did not contest the Derby but finished fourth in the Preakness. The others in Saturday's race -- Governor Malibu, Gettysburg, Seeking the Soul and Forever d'Oro -- are newcomers to the fray.
Gettysburg was a late entry after being moved from trainer Todd Pletcher's barn to Steve Asmussen, presumably to ensure a brisk pace for his new stablemate, Arkansas Derby winner Creator. The long shot Dallas Stewart-trained pair of Seeking the Soul and Forever d'Oro come to the Belmont off maiden victories. Both are owned by Charles Fipke.
Those additions swelled the field to the second-biggest in the past 20 years, surpassed only by the 14-horse field of the 2013 running.
With Nyquist out, attention has focused on Exaggerator and the trainer-brother team of Keith and Kent Desormeaux. The latter, who announced after the Preakness he was entering an alcohol rehabilitation program, flew in to New York to ride Exaggerator in a Tuesday morning workout that had a bit of a hiccup when Desormeaux had to straighten him out after he went wide entering the stretch. Before the correction, the Preakness winner had drifted well out onto the course.
Kent Desormeaux said the detour "was probably my fault ... It was no concern of mine. I gave it to him, he floated the turn for maybe 20, 40, 50 yards, I asked him to come back to center, which for me is the two path. He straightened away to the eighth pole, I asked him to quicken and he was full of life and full of speed."
Keith Desormeaux said the sweeping turns on Belmont Park's huge, 1 1/2-miles main track may have kept Exaggerator on his left lead longer than normal. Otherwise, the work seemed satisfactory and the trainer said he's happy with the Curlin colt's progress. "He looks great. I think he's put on a few pounds, which is always a positive quality especially when you're running races that are so close together," he said.
The field for Saturday's $1.5 million, Grade I Belmont Stakes, by post position, with morning-line odds, jockey and trainer:
1. Governor Malibu, 12-1, Joel Rosario, Christophe Clement 2. Destin, 6-1, Javier Castellano, Todd Pletcher 3. Cherry Wine, 8-1, Corey Lanerie, Dale Romans 4. Suddengbreakingnews, 10-1, Mike Smith, Donny Von Hemel 5. Stradivari, 5-1, John Velazquez, Pletcher 6. Gettysburg, 30-1, Paco Lopez, Steve Asmussen 7. Seeking the Soul, 30-1, Florent Geroux, Dallas Stewart 8. Forever d'Oro, 30-1, Jose Ortiz, Stewart 9. Trojan Nation, 30-1, Aaron Gryder, Patrick Gallagher 10. Lani, 20-1, Yutaka Take, Mikio Matsunaga 11. Exaggerator, 9-5, Kent Desormeaux, Keith Desormeaux 12. Brody's Cause, 20-1, Luis Saez, Romans 13. Creator, 10-1, Irad Ortiz Jr., Asmussen