(Reuters) - Exaggerator took advantage of sloppy conditions and a “dream trip” to win the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes by 3-1/2 lengths in Baltimore on Saturday, ending Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist’s bid for the Triple Crown.
Exaggerator hugged the rail for most of the 1-3/16 mile race before surging into the lead with an explosive burst down the stretch to win by 3-1/2 lengths and end a frustrating 0-4 record against Nyquist, who carried an 8-0 career mark into the race.
Race favorite Nyquist finished third, narrowly behind Cherry Wine, in the second leg of U.S. thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown series for 3-year-olds after a day of rain at Pimlico Race Course.
”I think Nyquist had company all around the course. They stayed really wide,“ said winning jockey Kent Desormeaux. ”I had a dream trip today.
“I was on the fence and they all stayed wide. These turns you want to paint the fence. We did and they didn‘t.”
Exaggerator finished second 1-1/4 lengths behind Nyquist in the Derby at Churchill Downs but he turned the tables in the Preakness with Hall of Fame jockey Desormeaux using his Pimlico know-how to notch a third Preakness win.
Exaggerator had won twice before in the mud, including a rousing 6-1/2 lengths victory in the Santa Anita Stakes, while Nyquist had never raced on a sloppy track before and it showed in the stunning finish at Pimlico.
Nyquist, breaking from the third post position in the 11-horse field, beat the other speed horses out of the gate and ran from the lead for much of the race.
But after Exaggerator made his powerful move, Nyquist could not respond.
Winning trainer Keith Desormeaux, brother of the jockey, said he was confident in his horse regardless of conditions.
”I hope it’s not only because of the muddy track,“ the trainer said after his mount came back strong just two weeks after the Derby. ”The horse has been training phenomenally.
“I did what I could to get him happy and fresh and strong and I’ve always said he’s had a great ability to recover and he showed it today.”
Nyquist trainer George O‘Neill was gracious in defeat.
“Hats off to Exaggerator and Team Desormeaux. What a great run,” said O‘Neill. “I didn’t think we could get beat, to be honest with you. Nyquist is such an amazing horse. He still ran a great race.”
Exaggerator, the second choice among bettors, paid $7.20 $3.20 and $2.40 for a $2 bet.
Cherry Wine returned $9.80 $4.20, while Nyquist paid $2.20 for third place.
The third leg of the Triple Crown series will be in the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 11.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes