Nelson, now 65, has myasthenia gravis, a muscular and nervous disorder for which there is no cure.
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In 1974, though, he was purchased by the Japanese Racing Association and exported for stud duties.
Almost two decades later, Bee Bee Bee, at 23, remains at stud.
Yasuhiko Haruta of the JRA said the horse has sired 404 colts, including 223 winners and eight graded stakes winners during his time in Japan.
The morning of May 20, 1972, broke under dark, foreboding skies in Baltimore.
A light mist fell, adding to a quagmire that had built up at Pimlico Race Course from a heavy, overnight rain.
In the solitude of a Pimlico barn, jockey Eldon Nelson spoke with trainer Del Carroll and the handlers of Bee Bee Bee about the possibility of pulling out of the Preakness later that day.
Nelson argued emphatically against scratching."We exercised him in the morning and the trainer wanted to know whether I thought we should run," Nelson said recently."I said, 'Yes, we should, because he loves the mud.' It takes a lot of heart to run in slop like that."It turned out to be a prophetic statement.
Nelson, a 45-year-old veteran, rode Bee Bee Bee to a stunning off-track victory in the 1972 Preakness, spoiling the Triple Crown bid of Riva Ridge.
Riva Ridge had romped over the Kentucky Derby field by 11 lengths two weeks earlier. But on that dark, rainy day in Baltimore, Riva Ridge, the prohibitive favorite in the Preakness, could do no better than fourth place, some seven lengths behind Bee Bee Bee."He was the horse to beat in the race, but he didn't like the mud," Nelson said of Riva Ridge.