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Exaggerator Clear Betting Favorite on Odds to Win Belmont Stakes

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After ending Nyquist’s chances of a Triple Crown triumph with his victory at the Preakness Stakes, Exaggerator is poised to leave the No. 11 post at Saturday’s Belmont Stakes as the race favorite at short +125 odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Keith Desormeaux-trained colt showed his dominance in sloppy conditions three weeks ago at the Preakness, storming past a late-fading Nyquist for his fifth win in 11 career races ahead of the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park.

There will be no rubber match between Exaggerator and Nyquist as the Kentucky Derby winner was withdrawn from the race after struggling with illness following his third-place finish at the Preakness.

However, Exaggerator faces no shortage of quality challengers, who have created a logjam behind him on the Belmont Stakes odds.

Stradivari finished fourth in his stakes racing debut at the Preakness but leads the best of the rest in Belmont Stakes betting, joined by Suddenbreakingnews at +700.

Starting from a more familiar No. 5 post on Saturday after starting further outside at No. 13 at the Preakness, a winning run for Stradivari would mean a third career victory at the Belmont Stakes for trainer Todd Pletcher, who previously reached the winner’s circle in 2007 and 2013.

There have been seven horses since 2000 that have won the Belmont Stakes after running in the Kentucky Derby but skipping the Preakness. This year, five horses meet that criteria, including Suddenbreakingnews, who finished fifth at Churchill Downs and will start from the No. 4 post on Saturday.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Destin, ran to a sixth-place finish at the Derby and starts from the No. 2 post with +900 odds. Brody’s Cause is listed at +1400 following a seventh-place finish in the Run for the Roses, while Creator is a +1600 bet on Saturday after finishing a disappointing 13th in Louisville.

Cherry Wine will be looking to become the 16th horse to win the Belmont when starting from the No. 3 post, and sports +800 odds following a strong second-place run at the Preakness Stakes.

Governor Malibu starts on the rail, joining Brody’s Cause at +1400, while Lani, who joins Exaggerator as the only horses to participate in all three Triple Crown races this year, is deadlocked with Creator at +1600.

Four horses sit well off the pace on the Belmont Stakes odds, with Gettysburg, Seeking the Soul, Forever d’Oro, and Trojan Nation all pegged as +4000 longshots.

Tiger Roll wins Grand National in photo finish

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AINTREE, England — Tiger Roll won the Grand National Steeplechase in a photo finish over Pleasant Company as Irish horses dominated the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree on Saturday.

A 4 1/2-mile (6,400-meter) race was won by a matter of inches in the closest finish to the Grand National since 2012, when Neptune Collonges won by a nose.

Tiger Roll, a 10-1 shot, was leading by as much as 10 lengths in the long run to the line, but only just held off the fast-finishing Pleasant Company (25-1) to win a first prize of 500,000 pounds ($710,000).

“I did have a big fear,” said jockey Davy Russell, who won the race for the first time at his 14th attempt. “It would have been heartbreaking.”

The first four horses home in the National were from Ireland, including Bless The Wings (40-1) and Anibale Fly (10-1).

It was the second National victory for both trainer Gordon Elliott, who also won with Silver Birch in 2007, and owner Michael O’Leary, who had 2016 winner Rule The World. O’Leary is chief executive of budget airline Ryanair.

“We bought the horse as a pint-sized hurdler,” O’Leary said, “but he’s got a heart of a lion.”

Russell grew up dreaming of winning the National. As a child, he erected Aintree-style fences in his garden and pretended to ride a horse over them.

“I’ve won this race thousands of times (in my head),” Russell said. “But not like this.”

David Mullins, the jockey of Pleasant Company, said he thought he was well-beaten after jumping the next-to-last fence.

“Davy was going so much better than me,” Mullins said.

That seemed to be the case as the horses made it past the elbow in the run to the line, but Pleasant Company closed in as Tiger Roll faded. It was too close to call as they crossed the line and the 171st edition of the race required a photo finish to separate them.

Total Recall went off as the 7-1 favorite but fell.

 

Baffert: McKinzie won’t run in Santa Anita Derby

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) McKinzie will miss the Santa Anita Derby on April 7 because of an unspecified problem.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed the colt won’t run in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby due to an issue in one of his hind legs. X-rays and scans haven’t confirmed what it is.

Baffert said Saturday in Dubai that McKinzie is “definitely out,” according to multiple media reports. He says he’s being “very cautious.”

The colt edged Bolt d’Oro in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.

McKinzie was 10th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 40 points for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. The colt won the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity on Dec. 9 and the Sham Stakes on Jan. 6.

Baffert was in the Middle East to saddle West Coast and Mubtaahij to second- and third-place finishes in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.