There’s no Triple Crown on the line, and no rematch between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners. There is, however, a factoid angle for Saturday’s 148th Belmont Stakes. If Exaggerator, the 9-5 morning-line favorite, wins, he’ll be the first Derby runner-up to complete the Preakness-Belmont double since Nashua did it in 1955.
Not quite the drawing power as American Pharoah’s bid for immortality, which is why the crowd probably will be in the vicinity of 45,000 to 50,000, far off last year’s 90,000.
Exaggerator drew post 11 in a field of 13, which was fine with his jockey, Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux. “I’m going to let Exaggerator get comfortable, wherever that is,’’ he said Wednesday at Rockefeller Center. “A dream run would be three-wide, waiting to pull the trigger.”
Todd Pletcher’s Stradivari (5-1, post 5) and Destin (6-1, post 2) are the second and third choices. Cherry Wine (8-1, post 3) is the only other runner below 10-1. Trainers Steve Asmussen (Creator, Gettysburg), Dale Romans (Cherry Wine, Brody’s Cause) and Dallas Stewart (Forever d’Oro, Seeking the Soul) also will run two.
There will be no coupled entries, even though Asmussen’s duo (WinStar Farm) and Stewart’s pair (Charles Fipke) have common ownership. Each horse’s program number will correspond to its post position, which will eliminate potential confusion for those who bet only a few times a year.
Desormeaux rides Exaggerator for his older brother, trainer Keith Desormeaux. “It’s a family production,’’ Kent said, “and I hope the magic continues.’’