With mostly sunny skies shining down on the 1 1/2-mile dirt track in the hours leading up to the race, and a field made up of mostly longshots, Exaggerator’s odds haven’t been shaken despite drawing the No. 11 post for the 148th Belmont Stakes on Saturday in Elmont, New York.
The 3-year-old Curlin colt and Preakness Stakes winner hasn’t lost his favored status since beating Triple Crown threat and Kentucky Derby victor Nyquist almost four weeks ago, and he currently stands at 10/11, according to Sportsbook.ag. Exaggerator was named a 9/5 morning line favorite after the draw Wednesday.
What is more, Exaggerator’s talent appears to be so well above the rest of the competition that bettors and oddsmakers don’t view jockey Kent Desormeaux’s brief treatment at an alcohol rehabilitation as a detriment.
Desormeaux, who works beside brother and Exaggerator’s trainer Keith, entered rehab on May 31, 10 days after riding Exaggerator to victory at the Preakness. He’s reportedly had a history of issues with alcohol and the 46-year-old evidently reached a breaking point.
“I am now in full understanding of the depth of my problem and I am now going to address it professionally,” Desormeaux said in a statement released by his agent, J.R. Pegram. “The reality was the fact that I thought it was time. I had family pressure, and my wife Rosie [Higgins] and longtime friend Michael Klein really thought that now was the perfect time.
“Things have come to fruition. They have slapped me in the face. I may have been in this rehab facility for only eight days, but I will have a correspondent for 20 more days who will follow me everywhere I go.”
Meanwhile, Exaggerator’s contenders have seen their chances ebb and flow in the weeks leading up to the final jewel of the Triple Crown.
Before the post draw, Governor Malibu was given the best chances to beat Exaggerator at 13/2, but he’s now gone to 12/1 and Stradivari has improved to 5/1 after sitting at 12/1.
Since no horse will be competing for a Triple Crown, much to Belmont Park’s chagrin there are many tickets available for good prices on the secondary market. According to StubHub, spots in the general admission grandstand are as cheap as $19, though there are seats available in the second floor clubhouse with a great view of the backstretch for $315.
The weather forecast is in Exaggerator and every other contenders’ favor, according to AccuWeather.com. Temperatures will be in the mid 70s Saturday morning with a flash thunderstorm forecasted between 5 p.m. ET and 6 p.m., but sunny skies are projected to return for the scheduled 6:32 p.m. post time.
Odds to Win Belmont Stakes
No. 1 Governor Malibu 12/1
No. 2 Destin 7/1
No. 3 Cherry Wine 8/1
No. 4 Suddenbreakingnews 11/2
No. 5 Stradivari 5/1
No. 6 Gettysburg 40/1
No. 7 Seeking the Soul 40/1
No. 8 Forever d’Oro 40/1
No. 9 Trojan Nation 40/1
No. 10 Lani 20/1
No. 11 Exaggerator 10/11
No. 12 Brody’s Cause 18/1
No. 13 Creator 22/1