Every year, with or without a Triple Crown on the line, the Belmont Stakes promises to be an exciting and competitive race. For years, the Belmont Stakes has seen the dethroning of top horses and the crowning of immortal champions. While this year’s renewal of the race does not offer up a potential Triple Crown, it renews images of a previous Champion: Point Given.
In 2001, a hot-tempered horse named Point Given made his way down the Triple Crown trail, using the San Felipe Stakes and Santa Anita Derby as his only prep races before his run in the Kentucky Derby. While Point Given won these two prep races, his 2016 counterpart, Exaggerator only won one of the two.
Exaggerator sparks memories of the 2001 monster that was Point Given. He may not have won the San Felipe Stakes, but he did win the first rainy Santa Anita Derby since Point Given (in 2001).
Point Given went into the Kentucky Derby as the post time favorite at official odds of 1.80-1. Exaggerator went into the 2016 Kentucky Derby as the second favorite, behind the then-undefeated Nyquist, the eventual winner of the Kentucky Derby.
The 2001 Kentucky Derby did not play out how Bob Baffert and Gary Stevens planned for Point Given. The chestnut colt finished fifth, which would be the only off-the-board finish in his entire career. The eventual winner of that year’s Kentucky Derby, Monarchos, bumped the colt at the start. Point Given tried to catch the field and was actually second at the mile marker before flattening in the stretch to hold onto fifth by 1-1/4 lengths.
For Exaggerator, the Kentucky Derby played out a bit better and more in the colt’s favor. Exaggerator was not going to catch Nyquist, but his impressive run was visually popping. After three-quarters, Exaggerator was 15th of 20 horses, but his position improved quickly. After a mile, Exaggerator had moved to eighth and was third by the top of the stretch. Exaggerator kept grinding away and was second crossing under the wire.
Two weeks later, Point Given, and Exaggerator, avenged their losses and drove home to win the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, Maryland.
Both horses were late runners in the second leg of the Triple Crown. Point Given was ninth following the opening quarter, while slowly advancing throughout the race. Exaggerator took a bit longer to get going, but emulated Point Given by having the lead coming into the stretch and pulling away. Point Given won by 2-1/4 lengths while Exaggerator won by 3-1/2 lengths.
The similarities between to the two horses are slightly more interesting than both losing the Kentucky Derby and winning the Preakness. Exaggerator is the likely favorite coming into the 2016 Belmont Stakes, which would be similar to Point Given being the favorite in the 2001 running and winning by an extreme margin of 12-1/4 lengths.
Whether Exaggerator can win the “Test of the Champions,” and possibly do so by such a large margin, is yet to be seen. However, history seems to show these two top thoroughbred racehorses are similar in style, record, and talent. With this in mind, who is to say the similarities won’t continue on with the Belmont Stakes?
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of US Racing.