By Kevin Martin
The old adage in racing is that every horse eventually loses. There are only a few in the long history of racing that avoided defeat and Nyquist will not be one of them. Nyquist won eight of his first races but lost his ninth race in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. He finished third behind the Preakness winner Exaggerator, who was second to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby. It was the fifth time the two horses raced against each other but the first time Exaggerator has finished ahead of his rival.
The rain came in fits and starts throughout the day making the track muddy by post time for the Preakness, the thirteenth race on the card at Pimlico. Nyquist broke cleanly from post position number three and was urged by jockey Mario Gutierrez out of the gate. He raced in the lead alongside longshot Uncle Lino who forced the Derby winner wide around the first turn.
The leaders set a very fast pace for the first quarter and half mile of the 1 3/16 mile race. The hot pace proved to be the undoing of the undefeated Nyquist. Exaggerator, who ran far back early in his previous two starts, moved along the rail to within five lengths from the pace setters on the backstretch. As they turned into the stretch a tired Nyquist briefly held the lead but yielded it to Exaggerator with less than a quarter mile to run. Nyquist gamely fought to stay within a length of the leader deep into the stretch but tired and was passed late by Cherry Wine who finished second. Stradivari finished fourth.
Exaggerator was ridden masterfully by Kent Desormeaux for his third Preakness win. It was the first win in a Triple Crown race for his brother Keith Desormeaux who trains the Preakness victor. After the race, Keith said that he plans on sending Exaggerator to run in the Belmont Stakes in New York in three weeks. Exaggerator’s sire, Curlin, also won the Preakness and finished second in the Belmont.
Nyquist’s trainer Doug O’Neil, gracious in defeat, told reporters that the Belmont remains a possibility for the beaten Preakness favorite. If Exaggerator and Nyquist do enter the Belmont it will be the first time a Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner face off in the Belmont since 2005 when Derby winner Giacomo faced Preakness victor Afleet Alex.
The number of Triple Crown winners will remain at twelve for at least another year.
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