No Triple Crown winner this year as Exaggerator wins Preakness
Exaggerator took advantage of a sloppy Pimlico track to win the 2016 Preakness Stake which ended Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist’s bid for the Triple Crown this year.
The Keith Desormeaux-trained three-year-old had to settle for second behind Nyquist at Churchill Downs over the 2000m trip in the opening leg of the Triple Crown but he appreciated the testing conditions at Pimlico, outstaying his 10 rivals to become the first horse since 1993 to finish second in the Derby but then go one place better in the Preakness.
Exaggerator’s stamina was key in the home straight as he pulled away from Nyquist, scoring by over three lengths. Ridden by the trainer’s brother, Kent Desormeaux, the winner was held up in the early stages but took one of the shortest routes around the track on the inside rail. At the halfway point he moved up the field to be within striking distance of the leaders. Once the winning line was in sight, the veteran jockey pushed his horse and received a great response as they went from the field.
The Kentucky Derby winner, Nyquist, had to settle for third as outsider Cherry Wine got up for second in a tight finish. Under jockey Mario Gutierrez, the Churchill Downs winner made the running under a strong pace with Uncle Lino alongside him. Those quick early fractions took their toll on both horses inside the last quarter of the race.
It was the first time that Exaggerator had got the better of Nyquist in five attempts as the latter suffered his opening defeat of his career. The three-year-old can now be backed to relish the stamina test again in the Belmont Stakes where he is available at the time of writing in horse racing betting at odds of 2.63 to prevail at Belmont Park over 2400m. The Preakness winner has also been cut in the betting for the Breeders’ Cup Classic later this year where he is now available at 11.0 following his victory at Pimlico. That could see the three-year-old take on American Pharoah, who last year became the first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown in the United States.
Connections of Exaggerator will be hoping the conditions at Santa Anita will fall in their horse’s favour. The three-year-old is establishing himself as one of the best stayers in the United States. Under sloppy ground at the California track earlier this year, Desormeaux’s horse came from a long way back in the Santa Anita Derby to win by six lengths in the Group One test where many of the other runners struggled to see out the trip.
The future now for third place Nyquist remains unclear. He has been installed in the Belmont Stakes betting at 3.5, however, he is not certain to run at the New York track in what is not going to be his ideal distance. Connections will make a decision closer to the race to see how conditions end up in the third leg of the Triple Crown.