Exaggerator wins Preakness, ends Nyquist's Triple Crown bid

A record 134,000 sodden race fans crowded into a rain-shrouded Pimlico Race Course in Maryland to watch the 141st Preakness. Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist sought to take the next step forward in the hunt for the Triple Crown. But it wasn't to be, as Exaggerator, runner-up in the Derby, got revenge and won the Preakness going away.

Nyquist, Exaggerator, and the other 9 horses in the race had to negotiate a soggy, sloppy track, running 1 3/16 miles for a $1.5 million prize to the winner. Nyquist broke early to set a strong pace. Uncle Lino held the quarter-mile lead, but Nyquist retook the lead in the back stretch. Exaggerator, ridden by jockey Kent Desormeaux, was as far back as 13 lengths, but began making a move in the back stretch. Coming out of the final turn, Exaggerator rode the rail as Uncle Lino and Nyquist battled for the lead. In the stretch, Exaggerator took the lead. Nyquist broke to the outside but was unable to catch up, and Exaggerator won the day, defeating the previously unbeaten Nyquist for the first time in five races.

Here's another set of angles on the race:

You've got to feel a bit for the Preakness. By its very slot on the Triple Crown schedule, the race has only one of two possible outcomes: heightened anticipation or wait-til-next-year disappointment. There's a ceiling to the celebration, but no floor on the heartbreak. Since 1963, it's crushed the dreams of 29 of the 50 Derby winners who entered. 

Nyquist entered the race at 3-to-5 odds, with Exaggerator following at 5-2, Stradivari at 8-1, Collected at 16-1, and Cherry Wine at 17-1. Earlier in the day, a single $80,000 bet briefly vaulted Stradivari into the top spot, but as the day wore on, the odds re-settled and Nyquist reclaimed the lead.

Every horse for the foreseeable future will be compared to American Pharoah, last year's dominant Triple Crown winner. American Pharoah won the Preakness in similarly sloppy conditions in 2015.

This year's Preakness began on a tragic note. Two horses died in the day's first four races, and one jockey was hospitalized with a broken collarbone. Homeboykris died after winning the first race, apparently suffering a heart attack after leaving the winner's circle. In the fourth race, Pramedya broke her leg and was euthanized on the track. Pramedya's jockey, Daniel Centeno, was thrown to the muddy track and injured. The deaths came 10 years after Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro suffered mortal injuries at the Preakness.

The final race of this year's Triple Crown will be the Belmont Stakes, set for June 11 at Belmont Park in New York.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.