Seizing the lead at the top of the stretch, Exaggerator splashed past a tiring Nyquist and went on for a 3½-length victory over Cherry Wine. Exaggerator’s elusive victory over his nemesis came after four tough losses, including a runner-up finish to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby.

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BALTIMORE — Despite the fog, the rain and an undefeated Kentucky Derby winner to contend with, Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux knew the best route to the Preakness winner’s circle with Exaggerator — stay inside and wait.

The rider who started his career in Maryland guided Exaggerator to a 3 ½-length victory over Cherry Wine in Saturday’s $1.5 million Preakness, ending any chance for a Triple Crown follow-up after American Pharoah accomplished the rare feat last year.

Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist was third in front of a record crowd of 135,256 that braved the rain.

Stride by stride, Exaggerator made up ground along the rail as Nyquist and Uncle Lino dueled for the lead.

“I had a dream trip,” he said. “To me it looked like Nyquist was trying to establish an outward position, maybe in the four path. He was jockeying for position all the way down the back side. And Exaggerator just kind of slid up the fence to the far turn where I actually got to slow him down and say ‘whenever I’m ready.’ ”

He was ready with 3/16ths of a mile to go, and splashed his way past Nyquist to finally beat his nemesis after four losses, including a runner-up finish in the Derby.

“It was an amazing race, and Exaggerator is an amazing horse,” Desormeaux said.

The day began on a somber note. Two horses died and a jockey was injured in the first four races.

It was 10 years ago when Gretchen and Roy Jackson’s Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro shattered bones in his right hind leg at the start of the Preakness. Seven months later, he was euthanized. The Jacksons’ 4-year-old filly, Pramedya, was euthanized on the track Saturday after she broke down during the fourth race. Jockey Daniel Centeno broke his right collar bone. Earlier, 9-year-old gelding Homeboykris won the first race, then collapsed and died.

Nyquist, who was unbeaten in eight career races, was the 3-5 favorite in the 11-horse field, with Exaggerator the second choice at 5-2. But this day was all Exaggerator.

The 3-year-old trailed by 13 lengths at one point but kept gaining ground along the rail. Desormeaux saw an opening around the final turn, angled outside and Exaggerator took over.

“I was actually trying to slow him down, asking him to wait,” Desormeaux said. “And he just blew up and felt like King Kong. And when I pitched him out, he did what he can do. He exploded.”

Exaggerator returned $7.20 to win, and the winning time in the 1 3/16th-mile race was 1:58.31.

Nyquist broke well under Mario Gutierrez, but his horse’s duel with 34-1 lonshot Uncle Lino was costly. When asked for his usual winning burst, Nyquist didn’t have it for the first time in his career.

“Hats off to Exaggerator and Team Desormeaux. What a great run,” Nyquist’s trainer, Doug O’Neill, said. “I didn’t think we could get beat, to be honest with you.”

Trained by Kent’s older brother, Keith, Exaggerator showed his talent in the slop once again. He won the Santa Anita Derby over a sloppy track. It was the first Preakness winner for the trainer who also began his career in Maryland, and the third for the Hall of Fame rider.

“I looked at him and he looked at me, and I got a fist pump,” Kent said. “That’s all we did.”