No, the Exaggerator isn’t Donald Trump. He’s my 2016 favorite horse. I managed to pull strings for some cat-on-horse time before his last and longest Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes on June 11 (NBC, 5-7 p.m. ET).
In case you’re tuning in late, Exaggerator ran second to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby, but then handed Nyquist his first-ever defeat in the Preakness.
We Skyped while the Ex Man rested up before the big day. (Shhh! Don’t tell Karen I stole her iPad!)
Adele: Are you bummed Nyquist won’t be racing? Everybody was hoping one of you would pull off two out of three Triple Crown wins.
Exaggerator: Yeah, that would have been a crowd-pleaser. But Nyquist ran a fever after the Preakness, so I’m glad his peeps showed some horse sense and let him rest.
But if Nyquist had run again and I won, I’d be remembered as “The Horse Who Missed the Triple Crown by 1 ½ Lengths.” That would have pissed me off, so I guess it’s all for the best.
Adele: After the Preakness, I heard your dad Curlin was handing out cigars at Hill ‘n’ Dale between his stud appointments. He called you a “chip off the old hoof.” After you ate Nyquist’s dust in four previous races, he’s proud you finally gave Nyquist a taste of your tail.
Ex: OK, I’ll admit, that felt great. Dad’s my inspiration, and filling his shoes ain’t easy. He was 2007 Horse of the Year, you know.
On the other hand, I did outrun him in the Derby because he came in 3rd. We both won the Preakness. He lost the Belmont by a head to a filly named Rags to Riches. If I end up losing, at least it won’t be to a girl.
Adele: Just watch out for Cherry Wine. He almost smelled victory in the Preakness, and he’s trying again at Belmont. Do you have a strategy?
Ex: Horses don’t do strategy. We leave that sneaky stuff to the jockeys. “Hug the rail or go wide? Hang back or set the pace? Whip or no whip?”
All we want to do is cross the finish line in one piece and get those little maniacs off our backs. You never see horses take racing too seriously. We don’t cry foul if we don’t come in first, or pick a fight with some horse who bumped us. Team mentality is for sled dogs and Clydesdales. We thoroughbreds just want to do our own thing, which is to run like the wind.
Adele: Cats aren’t into teams either, but Max, Roc, and I squabble just about every day. If I had hooves like yours, they’d both be dead.
Ex: You’re pretty tough for a fluffy white kitty. Remind me not to get on your bad side.
Adele: Just don’t step on my tail and you’ll be fine. You’re running again against two other horses I liked, Suddenbreakingnews from the Derby and Stradivari from the Preakness. If they were to place and show right behind you across that finish line, it would be my personal trifecta.
Ex: Thanks, Adele. I’m happy in post position 11, and they say I’m the favorite, so I’ll run this one for my feline fans. Keep your claws crossed!