Exaggerator has officially become the new odds-on horse betting favorite to win the Belmont Stakes after it has been reported that Nyquist will skip the race as a result of illness. Looking back on the Kentucky Derby winner’s run, it always seemed rather unfair that he was constantly and negatively compared to last year’s Triple Crown champion American Pharoah.
However, in light of this new development, coupled with Nyquist finishing the Preakness Stakes in third place, it appears as if this horse was doomed to not a second more than his 15 minutes of fame – but since a horse year is equal to 6 1/2 human years, then 15 minutes would equal… well, you get the idea.
Many people who bet on horses had Nyquist pegged as a very strong candidate to follow in Pharoah’s footsteps – or should that be horseshoes – and why not? It seemed like this cold could do no wrong. He was only the eighth unbeaten winner in Kentucky Derby history (and first since 2008) – a history that encompasses 141 years – and did so by by 11⁄4 lengths.
The last horse to have been undefeated in seven races before winning the Derby was Majestic Prince in 1969. Prior to the Preakness Nyquist was 8-0, including the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – making him only the second horse to complete the Juvenile-Derby double. Furthermore, he was awarded the American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse in 2015.
So, yeah. Nyquist was a colt among colts. However, at the Preakness Stakes Exaggerator proved that the son of Uncle Mo may have been unbeaten but wasn’t invincible. Not that that was readily apparent, even as the race itself unfolded. As a matter of fact, Exaggerator was well back in the field until the homestretch while Nyquist briefly led – all in accordance to horse betting odds – but the sloppy but sealed track worked in his favor. Exxie eventually won by 3½ lengths while Nyquist was beaten to the second place by Cherry Wine by a nose. This marked the first time Exaggerator bested Nyquist in a race in which both participated following four unsuccessful attempts.
Now comes the news that a 102 fever has kept Nyquist in Baltimore. Trainer Doug O’Neill and had hoped he would recover in time for the third leg of the Triple Crown, but a blood test showed Nyquist has an elevated white blood cell count. You just can’t bet on horses to recover from illness in less than three weeks, which pretty much means they can stick a fork in Nyquist because he’s done (at least as it pertains the Belmont Stakes).
So now not only did Exaggerator finally defeated Nyquist – who had been a thorn in the Desormeaux brothers’ side – but not there won’t even be a rematch, leaving Exxie as the horse betting darling for Belmont.