Global Weekly Review - 23.05.16
Just when you thought the global pecking order in the three-year-old division was virtually set in stone, along comes a weekend such as May 21-22 to confound even the most confident of judges.
Nyquist had beaten Exaggerator four times from four meetings prior to Saturday's G1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, yet in 'sloppy' conditions, the Keith Desormeaux-trained son of Curlin strode away from his nemesis, defeating him - at last - by three and a half lengths and a nose into third.
Cherry Win split the pair by clinching second in the dying strides of this second leg of the American Triple Crown, run in front of a record crowd of 135,256.
There is no doubt Uncle Lino softened up Nyquist by matching strides with him in the early stages.
But this was not offered as an excuse. Persistence had paid off for Exaggerator, and now there is the prospect of a modern-day Affirmed-Alydar rivalry developing. The G1 Belmont Stakes on June 11 will determine whether that becomes reality.
It is not unusual to witness a dominant three-year-old emerging in the first half of the season. Nyquist appeared in that mould in America, and in the absence of Godolphin's Emotionless, so, too, did Galileo Gold in Europe.
But, on rain-softened ground at the Curragh, Galileo Gold was also comprehensively beaten, in his case by the well-regarded Awtaad, who had a long-looking two and a half lengths to spare at the finish of the G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Awtaad is another home-bred Classic winner for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and is a son of recently-retired Darley stallion Cape Cross, also the sire of Sea The Stars, Golden Horn and Ouija Board.
The colt is trained by octogenarian Kevin Prendergast, who had first won the race in 1976, with Northern Treasure. The G1 Investec Derby has already been ruled out for Awtaad, but the G1 St James's Palace Stakes is a probable next assignment.
Galileo Gold had to squeeze through a narrow rails opening in the last furlong, but there was no chance of catching the winner, who had flown.
Godolphin had seven winners globally at the weekend, with Irish filly Devonshire in the G2 Lanwades Stud Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday arguably the most satisfying. Lucida finished fourth in the same race.