A horse – who happens to be called Exaggerator – walks into a racetrack – say, Pimlico Race Course – and is asked, “why the long face?” And he says, “because Nyquist is already here.” Seriously though, it appears as if the fate of the Kentucky Derby winner and Triple Crown horse betting favorite Nyquist and his perennial runner-up Exaggerator is to fulfill the roles of Achilles and the tortoise – or the Coyote and the Roadrunner, to put it in terms anyone can understand. Exaggerator seems doomed to always be two steps behind Nyquist, whether in competition – where he has already lost four times to the undefeated colt – or even if they’re just commuting from one place to another.
Exaggerator arrived at Pimlico Race Course on Sunday and settled into the Preakness Stakes Barn, where he will spend the rest of the week preparing for a rematch in the Kentucky Derby with Nyquist – that Nyquist, he’s so hot right now – who remains the odds-on favorite for people who bet on horses, not only to win the Preakness but also go all the way to become Triple Crown champion. Interestingly enough, a segment of the horse betting crowd still refuses to give Nyquist his due. Perhaps it has something to do with the colt’s wholesome, clean-cut image. As his trainer, Doug O’Neill, said, “if [Nyquist] was human, he’s just a well-dressed, go-to-bed-early, in-the-gym-all-day kind of horse.” Something along these lines, one would suppose.
All joking aside Kentucky Derby, though, Nyquist is actually a better role model than most pro athletes. In fact, one might say that he is the top athlete in the world today – after all, have we seen such a single most dominant individual presence in any sport since Brock Lesnar used to run roughshod through the UFC? The only one who has come close to beating him is precisely Exaggerator, but rather than living up to his hyperbolic nom de guerre, he has actually fallen short each time. He has tried sticking with him early, as well as surprising him late to no avail. Apparently, it is Exxie’s destiny to be the second horse betting favorite, at least as long as Nyquist is around – in other words, he is the Salieri to Nyquist’s Mozart.
Sure, some people who bet on horses believe not only that Exaggerator was compromised by a speed-biased track at Churchill Downs, but also that Nyquist may have been aided by it. However, this is a very subjective issue, and one that didn’t influence the Derby results, if one looks at the facts. There were 10 main track races run at Churchill Downs, and not a single one of them was won by a front-runner. The truth is, Exaggerator rallied from 15th, 17 lengths off the pace, but Nyquist did all the dirty work.