With a splashing victory in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes on May 21, Exaggerator showed why Triple Crown winners come around so infrequently. The Triple Crown requires a horse to adapt instantly to multiple situations for pace, track conditions, trip disadvantages, and sheer luck.
And if any horse were to take advantage of something happening in his favor or to the disadvantage of favorite Nyquist, who better than the hard-charging second-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby to profit from the situation?
So Exaggerator became the second Triple Crown race winner for leading sire and Horse of the Year Curlin (by Smart Strike). A big, strongly made chestnut who stands over a lot of ground, Curlin burst onto the classic scene of 2007 with a startling maiden victory and a quick advance up the class ladder.
After victories in the G3 Rebel Stakes and G2 Arkansas Derby, Curlin was third in the 2007 Kentucky Derby behind the previous season’s 2-year-old champion Street Sense (Street Cry) and the classy Danzig colt Hard Spun.
As Exaggerator has just done, Curlin reversed the decision in the Preakness, defeating Street Sense narrowly in a thrilling stretch run. Thereafter, Curlin was second in the Belmont Stakes to Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy), was third in the Haskell, and finished strongly through the fall with victories in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders’ Cup Classic, the latter over a sloppy racetrack.
Named Horse of the Year off those efforts, Curlin followed with an even better season at 4, winning 5 of 7 starts, including the G1 Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster, Woodward, and a second Jockey Club Gold Cup, before ending his career with his only race off-the-board in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on synthetic at Santa Anita. Curlin’s season was so impressive, however, that he was named Horse of the Year for a second time.
Curlin sired his first classic winner, Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, in his first crop, then had G1 Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks winner Curalina in his third crop, and the Preakness winner comes from his sire’s fourth crop.
Bred in Kentucky by Joseph B. Murphy, the Preakness winner is out of the stakes-placed Vindication mare Dawn Raid. Third in the Fanfreluche Stakes at Woodbine, Dawn Raid is a half-sister to Canadian champion Embur’s Song (Unbridled’s Song), stakes winner Ten Flat (Meadowlake), and stakes-placed Embattle (Phone Trick).
They are all out of Embur Sunshine, a daughter of Bold Ruckus, who was for many years a top-tier sire in Canadian breeding. Embur Sunshine was second in the Candy Éclair and Blue Sparkler Stakes at Monmouth, third in the Polite Lady Handicap at Woodbine.
Bred in Ontario by Josham Farms Ltd., Dawn Raid sold to W.S. Farish Jr. at the Keeneland September sale in 2006 for $70,000 and gained her stakes placing in the colors of a Woodford Racing LLC partnership. Consigned to the 2008 Keeneland November sale by Lane’s End, agent, Dawn Raid sold for $50,000 to Murphy, who raced her once unsuccessfully and retired her to breed for 2009.
The mare’s first two foals were winning fillies by Any Given Saturday (Sweet Saturday) and Pioneerof the Nile (Nile Queen), and Exaggerator is Dawn Raid’s third foal.
Dawn Raid’s subsequent foals are a 2-year-old filly by Pioneerof the Nile named Rose Garden and a filly at side who is a full sister to the Preakness winner.
Carrying that foal, Dawn Raid was consigned to the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale last November and was bought back at $625,000.
Joe Murphy said, “Dawn Raid is a nice mare and gets good-looking foals. So we still have her here at Stoneleigh Farm. A number of people have called to inquire about her, but my dad is in no rush to sell her, and we’ll probably keep the foal as well.”
The full sister to Exaggerator was born March 1, and Dawn Raid is back in foal on a cover to leading sire Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado).
Dawn Raid was a money-making producer when the future Preakness Stakes winner sold for $110,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2014, and judging from the improvements that Exaggerator keeps making to the mare’s production line in 2016 with a G1 victory in the Santa Anita Derby, then a second in the Kentucky Derby, and now a victory in the Preakness, the sky’s the limit.