Exaggerator’s horse betting odds of winning the 2016 Belmont Stakes turned out to be, well, an exaggeration. A long time ago a man said the last shall be first, and the first last. He had long hair and some wild ideas, and he didn’t always do what other people thought was right. And that man’s name was … I forget. You know who I’m talking about. He used to drive a blue car. The point is that Creator posted 13 in a field of 13 and went on to finish the 148th Test of Champions in first place. Meanwhile, Exaggerator seemed well content with the post he drew and that’s exactly where he finished – in 11th place.
It was an exciting race nonetheless for fans who bet on horses. Creator defeated Destin – who had posted 2 – by a nose in a photo finish, and tied for the smallest victory margin in the history of Belmont, which had been reached thrice before; most recently when Victory Gallop galloped to victory in 1998. Second place Destin may be a colt but he was stubborn as a mule – and we mean that as a compliment – 1 ½ lengths ahead of late-running Japanese transplant Lani. Not only did Creator become the first horse to win this race from the 13th position (having four horseshoes on you trumps unlucky 13) but also gave jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and trainer Steve Asmussen their first win in the Belmont Stakes.
Horse betting favorite and Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator was a contender for 1¼ mile. Unfortunately for him, the course at Belmont Park in New York is 1½ mile long – in fact, the longest of the Triple Crown championship. Exxie, who is known mostly as a closer, ran closer to the front than he usually does, even going all Ricky Bobby on jockey Kent Desormeaux and struggling to go fast. When Desormeaux finally asked for his run, Exaggerator had nothing – thus answering fans who bet on horses who wondered whether Exxie had enough left in the tank. Looks like Desormeaux picked the wrong week to quit drinking.
Skipping the Preakness after finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby may have been the right strategy for Creator, who won his 3rd race in 10 starts. As horse betting fans will remember, Exaggerator ran all three legs of the Triple Crown. Creator’s stablemate and late Belmont entry Gettysburg is due credit as well. The latter set the pace early in the race and faded late to set up Creator to do what he does best: close. And close he did. Ironically, Gettysburg was until recently trained by Destin’s trainer Todd Pletcher, but moved to Asmussen’s barn.