Exaggerator winning the Santa Anita Derby

As strange as it may seem, Exaggerator has now become a second favorite on some boards in the industry. It’s a curious turn of events for the Santa Anita Derby winner who was last seen in official Kentucky Derby Futures Wagering as a 27/1 longshot to compete for the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs. He is now appearing at 8/1 just three weeks after his biggest victory. Could the oddsmakers be on to something?

Exaggerator has been making the news for various reason this week, creating a mild stream of information that has kept him in the spotlight for a bit. Most notably, WinStar Farm purchased the breeding rights for the three-year old colt from Big Chief Racing this week. He has also been flown in from Santa Anita this week to begin training at Churchill Downs like many in the field. A sudden investment in a horse from a breeder isn’t a huge tipping point. If anything, that’s commonplace at this time of year.

Perhaps the biggest bit of news circulating around Exaggerator is his speed rating. For those unaware, the Beyer Speed Figure (like the BRIS Speed Rating) is a standardized evaluation of a horse’s pace. It’s a computer generated number that allows us to compare horses from different races to a certain extent. They are not the be all and end all of racing unless horses are hitting numbers of 115+, which nobody in the three-year old crop has this year. American Pharoah had a Beyer Speed Figure of 120 at the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2015.

Exaggerator has posted the highest Beyer Speed Figure at 103 this year, and was an absolute bullet on a wet track at the Santa Anita Derby. He covered the 1 1/8th mile in 1:49.66. Compare that to Nyquist’s time of 1:49.11 in optimal conditions over the same distance at the Florida Derby and you have a simple justification for why Exaggerator’s number has dropped by over four times since the KDFW closed its final pool window earlier this month.

It seems like a very sudden reaction to the Santa Anita Derby winner, but a well justified one. Exaggerator showed rocket-like closing speed at the sloppy race and perhaps boasts the only proven homestretch velocity that can contend with the world-class Nyquist. Often times, oddsmakers will insulate themselves from a threat by reducing the odds of a commodity in a given market. I’m not thoroughly convinced that bettors should overreact the same way that bookies have.

Exaggerator now sits right between Nyquist at 3/1 and Mohaymen who has floated between 8/1 and 10/1 in the lead up to the Kentucky Derby.

If you haven’t seen Exaggerator’s other worldly performance at the Santa Anita Derby, take two minutes and treat yourself below and decide for yourself where this horse belongs in the field of Triple Crown contenders.

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