Exaggerator wins to end Nyquist's Triple Crown bid

WASHINGTON • Exaggerator shattered the Triple Crown dream of heavy favourite Nyquist on Saturday to claim victory in a rain-sodden 141st Preakness at Pimlico.

Nyquist - previously unbeaten in his eight-race career - had been targeting the second leg of a Triple Crown following an emphatic victory at the Kentucky Derby earlier this month.

But Exaggerator - beaten four times in four previous races against Nyquist, including at the Derby - produced a masterful display on a sodden course to overhaul the 3/5 favourite on the home straight.

Nyquist, who had led almost from the start, tied up towards the line, eventually finishing third behind Cherry Wine.

It was a third career Preakness victory for Exaggerator jockey Kent Desormeaux, who admitted he had used his expert knowledge of the track to his advantage.

"I had a dream trip today," he said. "I was on the fence and they all stayed wide. With these turns, you want to paint the fence. We did, they didn't - knowledge is power."

His brother Keith, Exaggerator's trainer, revealed he had deliberately given the horse a light workload in the weeks since finishing second to Nyquist at Churchill Downs.

"The horse has been training phenomenally," the veteran trainer told NBC television. "My philosophy was to take the training as easy as possible because you're not going to gain any fitness in those two weeks.

"I did what I could to get him happy, and freshened and strong."

It was a desperately disappointing outing for Nyquist, seen by many as a strong contender to emulate American Pharoah's Triple Crown victory of last year with wins in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Trainer Doug O'Neill had missed out on a possible Triple Crown four years ago when his horse I'll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to withdraw on the eve of the Belmont Stakes with a tendon injury.

Exaggerator's victory was an uplifting end to a grim day at Baltimore, Maryland, that had been marred by the deaths of two other horses in earlier races.

Homeboykris, a nine-year-old who had competed in the Kentucky Derby in 2010, collapsed and died after winning the opening race of the card by a half-length. The horse was walking back to the stables after parading around the winner's circle following his triumph.

In the day's fourth race, four-year-old filly Pramedya collapsed on the turf and suffered a broken leg. She was euthanised on the track. Pramedya's jockey, Daniel Centano, suffered a broken collar-bone in the fall.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2016, with the headline 'Exaggerator wins to end Nyquist's Triple Crown bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe