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Saratoga notebook: Exaggerator questionable for Jim Dandy

FILE - In this May 21, 2016, file

FILE - In this May 21, 2016, file photo, Exaggerator (5), with Kent Desormeaux up, moves past Nyquist, ridden by Mario Gutierrez, on the way to winning the 141st Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Exaggerator has been made the 9-5 favorite in a field of 13 for Saturday's $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (AP Photo/Garry Jones, File) Credit: AP/ Garry Jones

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Preakness winner Exaggerator’s status for next Saturday’s Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga is questionable after an unimpressive workout.

Trainer Keith Desormeaux’s colt breezed 6 furlongs for jockey Junior Alvarado in a sluggish 1:13.80 Saturday morning on Saratoga’s main track. “Off of that work, it doesn’t seem he’s tight enough or is struggling with the track,’’ Desormeaux said. “It is making me leery of running in the Jim Dandy.”

Desormeaux rated the workout a “C or a C-plus.”

“He slowed down pretty good,” he said. “He went the last quarter in 25 and change. I would have liked to see him finish with more vigor.’’

So did Alvarado. “I asked him a little bit,” he said, “but he didn’t really gallop out much.”

Exaggerator has not raced since finishing 11th as the favorite June 11 in the Belmont Stakes. Desormeaux said he might train him up to the 1¼-mile Travers if he skips the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy, which is expected to draw Belmont winner Creator, Destin and Mohaymen.

Creator schooled in the paddock before Saturday’s third race. So did Gun Runner, who will challenge Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist next Sunday in the Grade I Haskell at Monmouth Park.

Two breakdowns for Pletcher

There’s nothing uglier in racing than a breakdown, and trainer Todd Pletcher endured two here in the past two days. On Friday, his 3-year-old colt Stradivari suffered what Pletcher called a career-ending injury when he fractured his right front leg while galloping out after a workout. Stradivari was 2-for-5, finishing fourth in the Preakness and fifth in the Belmont in his final two races. Pletcher said the colt probably would have surgery Monday.

In Saturday’s first race, the 3-year-old colt Zamjara suffered a leg injury entering the far turn. As Pletcher’s other runner, Money Changer, was having his picture taken in the winner’s circle, Zamjara was being loaded onto a horse ambulance.

There was another incident in the fifth race, when Rootformejustin was pulled up on the far turn on the Mellon Turf Course. After a few minutes, he walked into the ambulance. The 4-year-gelding is owned by Zayat Stables LLC, which campaigned Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Bitumen rules Sanford

A change of tactics worked for 4-5 favorite Bitumen, who was fourth in upper stretch before he came five-wide with Javier Castellano for a 1¾-length win in the Grade III Sanford Stakes for 2-year-olds. Bitumen, who’s 2-for-2, was on or near the pace while dominating his debut by 6¾ lengths.

“He had to come from well back today,” trainer Eddie Kenneally said. “He was a little farther back than you would have wanted, but he kicked it in and went right by them. I’m delighted with the performance.”

The stretch run led to a bit of sibling rivalry, when Irad Ortiz Jr., on third finisher Zartera, claimed foul against runner-up Random Walk, ridden by his brother Jose Ortiz. The order of finish stood.


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