Two legs of the Triple Crown have been completed with two different winners, but the excitement isn't over yet. Champion 2-year-old Nyquist, who suffered his first defeat in the Preakness, will miss the Belmont Stakes because of a fever, but Preakness victor Exaggerator is headed to Belmont Park for the June 11 final jewel of the Triple Crown. But Exaggerator isn't the only big-time 3-year-old running in the Belmont Stakes, 10 horses will be lining up to take a shot at winning the final United States classic of the year.
Want to know who Exaggerator will be facing? Learn more about each of the competitors.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Brody's Cause returned to the site of his greatest triumph for the Blue Grass Stakes and delivered another terrific effort at Keeneland Race Course, closing from 11th to take command in the stretch before pulling away to win by 1-3/4 lengths. He won the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last October and also finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Keeneland later that month. Brody's Cause returned to Churchill Downs, the site of his maiden victory, to run in the Kentucky Derby and finished seventh. A $350,000 auction purchase, Brody's Cause is out of 2006 Labatt Woodbine Oaks runner-up Sweet Breanna. Brody's Cause probably will be joining fellow Dale Romans trainee Cherry Wine near the back of the field during the early part of this race.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Cherry Wine has really started to come into his own in the last six months. He won back-to-back races by a combined margin of 15-1/4 lengths before finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and third in the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. He was beaten by just a head for second in the Blue Grass, which cost him a spot in the Kentucky Derby field. After sitting on the Kentucky Derby also-eligible list, Cherry Wine was rerouted to the Preakness where he closed from 10th to beat Nyquist for the second spot by a nose at odds of 17.30-to-1. He'll be one of two horses trainer Dale Romans runs in the Belmont.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Creator was a $440,000 purchase as a yearling and is out of Morena, Peru's champion 2-year-old filly, 3-year-old filly and older female in 2006, 2007 and 2008. After finishing second in four of his first five races, Creator broke through with a powerful 7-1/4-length win. He then finished third in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes in his stakes debut before winning the $1-million Arkansas Derby by 1-1/4 lengths. Running near the back of the pack for most of the Kentucky Derby, Creator was never a threat, finishing worse than third for only the second time in his career. Ricardo Santana Jr. has been on Creator for six of his nine starts -- including the last four -- but Irad Ortiz Jr. will be taking over the mount for the first time in the Belmont.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: After winning one of two races as a 2-year-old, Destin struggled when fourth in his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes in January at Fair Grounds. Destin rebounded in a big way in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes when posting a new career-best 110 Equibase Speed Figure in a 2-1/4-length win. He then followed with a clear win in the Tampa Bay Derby. Destin came into the Kentucky Derby with eight weeks of rest and ran a solid sixth in the race. In the Belmont, Destin will be coming in off of a five-week layoff, which is closer to the layoffs he had during his wins at Tampa Bay Downs. He also has a very impressive pedigree: Destin is by three-time leading sire Giant's Causeway out of Grade 1 winner Dream of Summer, which makes him a full-brother (same sire [father], same dam [mother]) to Grade 1 winner Creative Cause, who finished third in the 2012 Preakness and fifth in that year's Kentucky Derby.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Exaggerator has faced elite competition since early in his 2-year-old season, winning the Grade 2 Saratoga Special Stakes in his third start before a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity and a fourth-place finish in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He delivered a visually stunning victory in his final prep for the Kentucky Derby, when he closed from last to first in the Santa Anita Derby and powered clear to win by 6-1/4 lengths. He lived up to his billing as a consistent horse who always runs his race in the Kentucky Derby to make an impressive late run for second place. Exaggerator had finished behind Nyquist in four races, including his debut last June, but the big Curlin colt emulated his sire in the Preakness Stakes when defeating the Breeder's Cup Juvenile/Kentucky Derby winner. In Curlin's Preakness he beat Street Sense, who was the first -- and only other -- horse to accomplish that double.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Breaking his maiden at Belmont Park on May 29 in his third start, Forever d'Oro is coming back in two weeks to run in the Belmont Stakes as his fourth start. The colt made his debut on April 9 at Keeneland and made his second start on Kentucky Derby day, so he will have made four starts in a little over two months if he runs in the Belmont. His sire is Medaglia d'Oro, who finished second in the 2002 Belmont Stakes and his dam is 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever. He is also a half-brother to Grade 1 winners Forever Unbridled and Unbridled Forever. Trainer Dallas Stewart has finished second in the Kentucky Derby twice and was second in the Preakness last year with Tale of Verve but has never finished on-the-board in the Belmont Stakes or won a classic race.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: A $425,000 purchase as a yearling, Gettysburg earned his first victory going 1-1/8 miles on the dirt in his third start. After finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes, he finished second to Collected in the Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes. A fifth place finish in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby kept Gettysburg out of the Kentucky Derby and a month later he finished third in an allowance optional claiming race at Belmont. On the back of that win, and due to the lack of speed in the Belmont Stakes, the decision was made to enter the colt in the Belmont. Gettysburg is by the same sire (father) as 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Bought for a modest $135,000 as a 2-year-old by Christophe Clement, Governor Malibu had a case of seconditis in his first two starts before finishing third in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes at Belmont Park last October. The colt won two straight races at Aqueduct over the winter before finishing first in the Federico Tesio but was disqualified to second. He followed that up with a second-place finish in the Peter Pan Stakes the weekend after the Kentucky Derby. Governor Malibu is trained by Clement, who won the 2014 Belmont Stakes with Tonalist following the similar Peter Pan-to-Belmont Stakes path.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Lani is by two-time leading U.S. sire Tapit out of the elite Japanese racemare Heavenly Romance, by 1989 Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner Sunday Silence. Bred in Kentucky, Lani made the first five starts of his career in Japan, where he won twice before shipping to Dubai and winning the United Arab Emitrates Derby. Lani made a name for himself at Churchill Downs for his high-spirited temperament and finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby. He was the first Japanese-based horse to run in the Preakness Stakes and finished fifth. When he runs in the Belmont Stakes, he'll be the only Japanese-based horse to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown.
Seeking the Soul
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Seeking the Soul broke his maiden on May 29 at Churchill Downs and is one of two entries for owner Charles Fipke in this race with his other, Forever d'Oro, also breaking his maiden on that date. Seeking the Soul was second in his debut and fifth in a maiden race on Kentucky Derby day before winning by a neck in his victory. Seeking the Soul's dam (mother) is a graded stakes winner who is a granddaughter of the champion Personal Ensign. His sire is the Canadian champion Perfect Soul, who also sired 2013 Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul. Trainer Dallas Stewart has finished second in the Kentucky Derby twice and was second in the Preakness last year with Tale of Verve but has never finished on-the-board in the Belmont Stakes or won a classic race.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Stradivari made his debut in early November, finishing fourth. He subsequently was ultra-impressive in two starts with a combined margin of victory of 25-3/4 lengths. Stradivari won at 1-1/16 miles and 1-1/8 miles, and the colt appeared to be getting better the farther he goes. For his first stakes attempt, Stradivari was thrown in the deep end by racing in the Preakness Stakes and, facing a sloppy track for the first time, the colt ran a credible race, finishing half a length behind Nyquist in fourth. Stradivari is by Medaglia d'Oro, who finished second in the 2002 Belmont Stakes and both the 2002 and 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic, and he is out of multiple graded stakes winner Bending Strings.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Suddenbreakingnews was one of the more impressive closers in the Kentucky Derby, rallying from nearly 28 lengths back at the second call of the race to finish fifth, 4-3/4 lengths behind Nyquist. During the Kentucky Derby prep season, Suddenbreakingnews was impressive at Oaklawn Park, winning the Southwest Stakes and finishing second in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.
Suddenbreakingnews' unraced dam is by 2005 Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex and his grandam (maternal grandmother), Party Cited, is a Grade 2 winner who produced multiple Grade 1 winner Composure. One thing to keep in mind is that while it seems like closers in the Kentucky Derby should love the added distance of the Belmont Stakes, the last time a true closer won the Belmont (Summer Bird was ninth at one call in 2009 but spent most of the race between fourth and fifth) was Jazil in 2006.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Trojan Nation's dam is champion and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Storm Song, who also is the grandam (maternal grandmother) of Irish classic winner Order of St George. Based in California, Trojan Nation made his first trip outside of California for the Wood Memorial Stakes a very profitable one, finishing second at 81.50-1 odds in his stakes debut to earn $190,000. The runner-up finish gave him sufficient points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard to qualify for the Derby despite not having a single victory on his resume. Trojan Nation finished 16th in the Kentucky Derby and is looking to become the first maiden since Prince Eugene in 1913 -- and only fourth in history - to win the Belmont Stakes.
Wild About Deb
Notable achievements and interesting facts: A $30,000 2-year-old purchase, Wild About Deb lost his debut to Preakness Stakes runner Uncle Lino before earning a breakthrough victory by six lengths in his second start. Wild About Deb made his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes on May 14, when he finished third. Wild About Deb is by 2010 Wood Memorial Stakes winner Eskendreya and out of the stakes winning mare Smarty Deb. Wild About Deb comes from a strong Washington state family, however only one of the horses in the family has won a graded stakes.
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