He nudged his colt forward, and they joined a cavalry charge into the far turn, the leaders bunching for the run around the last bend. Now six horses wide, Desormeaux and his mount were taking the worst of it. Real Quiet appeared to have no chance. "I was hung out to dry," Desormeaux says.
Midway through the turn, with three eighths of a mile to go, Desormeaux asked his bay for speed. It was as though he'd hit a switch; the colt made a move that was electric, as swift as it was irresistible, and at once he had Gallop by the throat and was lunging past him to take the lead. Desormeaux whipped the colt lefthanded. Stevens had Gallop in a drive.
With 250 yards to run, Gallop began to give way, and by the eighth pole Real Quiet, with a half-length lead, had him whipped. Real Quiet pulled away in the final 200 yards to win in a flourish, in 1:54[3/5] just 1[1/5] seconds off the stakes record. "He was tons the best," said America's latest hall of fame trainer, Bill Mott. "That wide move on the last turn was unbelievable."
It was 92� at Pimlico on Saturday, and in that debilitating heat, Real Quiet had run through his bridle, and he was as wet as he was weary when Desormeaux dismounted. Baffert has three weeks to get him ready for the biggest and potentially richest event of all. If Real Quiet wins the Triple Crown, Visa will pay a $5 million bonus. "My job is to get that battery charged again," Baffert said. "I will not let you down. We will win the Triple Crown."
Desormeaux was sitting on that fence with the painted plaques and saying that more than money was at stake. "We've got the Derby and Preakness out of the way," he said. "Now we're messing with history." In this oldest of traditional American sports, that Crown remains the only monument to greatness worth messing with.