It looked like he might do it. The undefeated, best three-year-old in the world appeared to switch to another gear as his biggest rival took to the rail. Jockey Mario Gonzalez pulled Nyquist out deep in the stretch of the 2016 Preakness Stakes. That’s when it appeared that Nyquist would run past Exaggerator. The gutsy horse kicked it in for a moment, but the damage had been done. Even a tough horse like Nyquist couldn’t keep it going after running a first quarter in the mud in :22.38.
The stretch suddenly turned into molasses for the Doug O’Neil trainee. It was just too much to overcome. But Nyquist is such a good horse that he finished third while highly regarded Stradivari, the recipient of an $80,000 wager earlier in the day that sent his odds to 3/5 only to see his odds revert back to 7/1 before the gates opened, fell back to fourth. Cherry Wine finished second.
Although difficult to comprehend for many who thought that the Kentucky Derby winner was on his way to the Triple Crown, the Preakness pretty much unfolded the way that races with good horses unfold. The Kentucky Derby winner often times isn’t a great horse. It’s just a good horse. Orb wasn’t a great horse. He didn’t turn into a great horse. California Chrome has turned into a great horse but he wasn’t, not really, during the Triple Crown. He just ran against horses that weren’t as good as he was until he faced Tonalist in the Belmont Stakes.
A great horse is American Pharoah. Pharoah won the Triple Crown and then proved his greatness by destroying the field in the Breeders Cup Classic. Curlin proved himself to be a great horse even though he didn’t win the Triple Crown. Sunday Silence is another that proved to be a great horse even though he didn’t win the Crown. Even if Nyquist doesn’t come back and win the Belmont Stakes against Exaggerator, there’s a chance that he could develop into a great horse. See below for 3 reasons why.
Nyquist has a great horse style – You want to know why everybody remembers Silky Sullivan and Zenyatta? Because Silky Sullivan and Zenyatta are 2 horses who won races by closing. Both could close into slow fractions and win. That’s not the case with most great racehorses. Zenyatta and Silky Sullivan were exceptions to the rule. Think about Exaggerator. The horse’s best 2 lifetime races were the Santa Anita Derby and Preakness Stakes. It took mud and incredibly fast fractions for Exaggerator to close and win both of those races.
Nyquist runs close to the pace. He runs the way that Tiznow did. Tiznow beat Giant’s Causeway in he 2000 Breeders Cup Classic by sticking close to the pace. Horses that press the pace can be great because they can make their own pace if need be.
Nyquist is tough – Nyquist, like Tiznow in the 2001 Breeders Cup Classic, tried to re-rally against Exaggerator after that one passed him. It almost looked like he was going to get by him. Tiznow allowed Sakhee to get by him before looking into Sakhee’s eyes and then going past that rival. This is another reason why good horses become great horses. They want to fight. They want to beat their rivals. They enjoy the challenge. That’s Nyquist.
Nyquist can win at any distance – A great horse can win at any distance. Ghostzapper proved himself to be a great horse because he won both the Breeders Cup Classic at 1 1/4 miles as well as the Met Mile at 1 mile. The Met Mile was Ghostzapper’s final race. It shows exactly what great horses are made of. They can win at any distance.
Although Nyquist lost the Triple Crown, his connections and fans shouldn’t fret. Nyquist has all of the qualities to be a great horse. Remember that Tiznow’s first stakes win was on July 1, 2000 when he beat favored Dixie Union by a neck. Ghostzapper’s first win at a route of ground was in the Grade 3 Phillip E. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park. Horses improve. Nyquist has time to become great because he can win at any distance, he runs near the pace, and he’s got heart.
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