Charging finish earns victory for Exaggerator at Preakness

Exaggerator (right) on its way to winning the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.

Exaggerator (right) on its way to winning the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.

Exaggerator took advantage of sloppy conditions and a “dream trip” to win the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, 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 favourite Nyquist finished third, narrowly behind Cherry Wine, in the second leg of US thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown series for three-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 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. 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 beaten, 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.

The third leg of the Triple Crown series will be in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

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