It ended as quickly as a gasp from the startled crowd of 98,304. Around the final turn, jockey Kent Desormeaux on Pegasus and Jerry Bailey on the Bullet were running in tandem when Hal's Hope, one of the pacesetters, started tiring and backing up. Desormeaux steered Pegasus outside Hal's Hope, and Bailey took Red Bullet inside. Desormeaux glanced over and saw the Bullet half a length in front of him, just where he said he wanted to be: "I had what I thought was the second-best horse as a target."
What Desormeaux did not know was that—whether his colt was tailing off in form or unable to handle the mud, or both—he was on the second-best horse this day. As they rolled into the straight, the two jockeys hit the gas. Coming off the bit in the drive, Pegasus lost his fluent action as he tried to keep his balance. "We started slippin' and slidin'," Desormeaux said. "It was greasy out there."
Red Bullet moved on surer feet, surging forward in a burst and opening a length on Pegasus—"He tried to match strides with him, but he couldn't do it," said Desormeaux—then two lengths as they reached the eighth pole. By then the race was over. Red Bullet ran hard and true to the wire. Pegasus, tiring, struggled to beat a plodding closer named Impeachment by a head. This was a Preakness in which Fusaichi Pegasus was supposed to announce himself as the rightful heir to the line that traces from Sir Barton to Affirmed. All it did was bury in the mud the widespread hope that such a champion had at last been found. And raised doubts anew that one ever will.