It took five tries, but Exaggerator finally got the better of Nyquist. Exaggerator, who finished second to Nyquist twice previously, including the Kentucky Derby, sprinted hard down the back stretch to pass Nyquist and end the dream of a second consecutive Triple Crown winner.
Exaggerator's trainer Keith Desormeaux said just before the race that Exaggerator loves the mud and the conditions worked out. It was jockey Kent Desormeaux's third career win at the Preakness Stakes. He could feel Nyquist pushing a bit too hard too early.
"To me it looked like Nyquist was trying to establish an outward position, maybe in the four path," Desormeaux said. "He was jockeying for position all the way down the back side. And Exaggerator just kind of slid up the fence to the far turn where I actually got to slow him down and say 'whenever I'm ready.' "
Desormeaux hadn't won a Triple Crown race since the Belmont Stakes in 2009.
Nyquist flew out of the gate early and held the lead throughout the first 3/4 mile of the race, staying neck and neck with Uncle Lino. But just down the back stretch, Exaggerator exploded past the field and juked Nyquist to take the inside lane. After that, Nyquist was never able to regain its footing and come back to the top.
"Hats off to Exaggerator and Team Desormeaux. What a great run," Nyquist's trainer Doug O'Neill said. "I didn't think we could get beat, to be honest with you."
Of the three favorites heading into the race, Stradivari was the only one outside the top 3. The horse, who got some major backing earlier on in the day when an anonymous gambler dropped $80,000 on Stradivari, shook up oddsmakers so much they made him the odds-on favorite for about two hours. Things settled back down shortly thereafter, but it was enough to move things around and change some payouts for some patrons.
Stradivari never really came close to making a push and finished fourth.
It's a disappointing result for owner Paul Reddam and his team, but there is a reason we went 37 years without seeing a Triple Crown winner. It is extremely difficult to win three straight races in the span of seven weeks.
There are outside factors (fatigue, weather, etc.) that can affect a horse and its ability. Nyquist may have had the best chance to pull off the feat this year, but truth be told, we were lucky to see one like we did in 2015 with American Pharaoh.
Here is how the rest of the field shook out from Pimlico.
|141st Preakness Stakes results|
|2. Cherry Wine|
|7. Uncle Lino|
|9. Awesome Speed|
|11. Abiding Star|
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