Nyquist and Exaggerator are going to go at it again for the sixth time at the Belmont Stakes. Connections for both horses have indicated their intention to run in the third leg of the Triple Crown on June 9 at New York’s Belmont Park.
Nyquist won the Kentucky Derby and finished third in the Preakness. Exaggerator beat Nyquist for the first time in the Preakness after finishing second in the Kentucky Derby. They’ll be the horses attracting the most interest and Exaggerator’s trainer Doug O’Neal is excited: “This is fun, isn’t it? There was no pressure on me yesterday. All the pressure was on Nyquist to keep the record perfect, so I totally enjoyed the day. Now that we’ve accomplished this, the pressure is even less.”
Nyquist’s trainer Doug O’Neill is planning to run in the Preakness but wants to make sure his horse is up to the task: “We’re heading to Belmont. As long as he continues to show good energy and does well, we’ll try this again in three weeks. … The plan was to point to the Triple Crown races—all three—and ideally win all three, but I thought he ran a really gutsy race and I just wanted to make sure he looked good this morning before committing to go to the Belmont.”
Asked about Nyquist’s loss O’Neill put it in historical perspective: “Even the great Secretariat got beat three times (as a 3-year-old). They’re not machines, as much as he seemed like a machine, being undefeated and doing everything like a super horse—and he is a super horse. He ran his race. Exaggerator just ran an unbelievable race. … I did (want him to be close to the lead). I wanted a good, clean trip—free running.”
Six more Grade 1 races will be on the Belmont Stakes day card including three with seven figure purses: the Metropolitan Handicap, Ogden Phipps Stakes, and Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes. In addition to Nyquist and Exaggerator five other runners from the previous two Triple Crown races will enter the Belmont Stakes: Cherry Wine (2nd Preakness), Lani (5th Preakness), is also in the field. The other three horses raced in the Kentucky Derby but skipped the Preakness: Suddenbreakingnews (5th Kentucky Derby), Destin (6th Kentucky Derby) and Brody’s Cause (7th Kentucky Derby).