American Pharoah will remain the only horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978 for at least one more year as Keith Desormeaux’s Exaggerator closed strong to beat Nyquist and claim the Preakness Stakes. Nyquist set blistering fractions early but started to fade at the top of the stretch. He would hold on to finish third with Cherry Wine taking second place.
The other half of the brother tandem, jockey Kent Desormeaux gave Exaggerator a great ride and set him up perfectly to close strong: “I had an absolute dream ride. I was able to inch forward and gain on the leaders slowly and quietly. From the three-eighths to the quarter, I was slowing him down, waiting. He felt like King Kong. When I pitched him out, he exploded.” Trainer Keith Desormeaux got his first victory in the Preakness: “It’s an American classic for a reason. To finally get to win one, it’s kind of hard to describe. What I’m feeling now is awesome confirmation of a lifetime of dedicating myself to finding and getting the best out of a horse.”
Nyquist has earned a lot of fans among horse racing betting enthusiasts and serious railbirds for his sold form and consistency. He’s run 11 career races with 5 wins and nine in the money finishes. He also loves to race in rainy weather on sloppy tracks–a rarity among high level race horses. He earned his way to the Kentucky Derby with a win on a sloppy track at the Santa Anita Derby so it was fitting that his Preakness win came in similar conditions.
Nyquist may have been undone by a questionable strategy. The Kentucky Derby champion was sent hard to the front and engaged in a speed duel with Uncle Lino that resulted in a blistering first quarter mile (22.38) that was the best ever in Preakness history. At the top of the stretch he began to tire just as Desormeaux was making his move. But Nyquist won’t have long to try and avenge this defeat–both he and Exaggerator have been confirmed for the Belmont Stakes where the two horses will meet for the sixth time in their career.