Exaggerator has taken home the second gem in horse racing's triple crown. The colt won a mud-filled Preakness Stakes on Saturday, handing rival Nyquist the first loss of his career and ending his shot at a triple crown.
It wasn't an easy win for Exaggerator, though. For much of the race, the colt trailed not only Nyquist but Uncle Lino, as well. As in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, Exaggerator mounted a last-minute bid to take the lead; unlike that last race, however, Exaggerator finished the job.
Nyquist entered the race as the favorite, with 3-5 odds, trailed by Stradivari and Exaggerator, whom he narrowly defeated at Churchill Downs two weeks ago. Nyquist — who's named for the NHL's Gustav Nyquist by his hockey fan owner — has now gone 8 for 9 in major races.
Rain came down for much of the day at Pimlico Race Course, just outside Baltimore. Still, Nyquist's trainer, Dale Romans, betrayed no concern for the conditions in the lead-up to the race.
"My horse loves the mud," Romans quipped to AL.com.
Yet it was Exaggerator — and his jockey, Kent Desormeaux — who emerged from the muck with the win.
Now, speculation surrounding a possible triple crown is also effectively silenced. With wins split between Nyquist and Exaggerator in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, respectively, American Pharoah remains assured of his status as the only horse to win a triple crown since 1978. The thoroughbred managed that achievement last year.
Next up on the schedule: the Belmont Stakes, which will be run on June 11.
Deaths In The Undercards
Dark notes sounded at the rain-soaked track earlier in the day, however. Two horses died within the first four undercard races at Pimlico, including one of the victors.
Homeboykris, a 9-year-old underdog gelding, won the day's first race at long odds — but collapsed shortly after leaving the winner's circle. Officials don't yet know the horse's cause of death, but his trainer, Francis Campitelli, told The Baltimore Sun he suspects it was a heart attack.
"They're thinking at this point it was some sort of heart attack — you know, ruptured aorta or something like that," Campitelli said of the horse, which had a long racing career behind him. He had finished 16th in the 2010 Kentucky Derby. "We won't know until they do a necropsy on him, just to find out exactly what happened."
Not long after that, Pramedya, a 4-year-old filly, fractured her leg during the fourth race. The horse's jockey, Daniel Centeno, also broke his clavicle in the accident. The horse was euthanized on the track.
It's not the first tragedy for Pramedya's owner. The Washington Post reports that Lael Stables also owned Barbaro, a former Kentucky Derby winner "who broke his right hind leg racing in the 2006 Preakness and died from complications from the injury in January of 2007."