BALTIMORE -- The dream of another Triple Crown winner will remain just that for 2017 as Cloud Computing, a colt that skipped the Kentucky Derby, went on to outduel Classic Empire to win the 142nd Preakness Stakes by a head at Pimlico Race Course May 20.
In the process, Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming -- who led from the starting gate to the far turn but faltered badly to finish eighth -- became another Derby winner who was unable to complete the rare feat of winning the Triple Crown.
For awhile, the race shaped up the way many expected.
Always Dreaming, the pre-race favorite with John Velazquez in the saddle, broke quickly from the gate and went to the rail. And on his right shoulder was Classic Empire, who had finished fourth in the Derby and was second in the odds at 2-1.
It stayed that way through the clubhouse turn, along the backstretch and into the far turn.
That's where Classic Empire, under Julien Leparoux, made his bid to take the lead and at the top of the stretch, it appeared Classic Empire would sail home for the win. But Cloud Computing, with Javier Castellano riding, had other ideas.
Never falling too far off the pace in third place for much of the race, Cloud Computing found another gear down the home stretch and with about five jumps to the finish line, he incrementally took the lead with each stride and won by a head. Cloud Computing covered the 1 3/16 miles of the $1.5 million Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown in 1:55.98 and paid a handsome $28.80 to win, $8.60 to place and $6.00 to show.
Classic Empire ($4.40, $4.00) was second and Senior Investment ($10.20) was third.
For Cloud Computing trainer Chad Brown, it was his first try at the Preakness and for Castellano it was his first race as Cloud Computing's jockey.
"Mr. Brown gave (the ride) to me and Mr. (Seth) Klarman," Castellano said referring to one of Cloud Computing's owners who grew up in Baltimore's Mt. Washington neighborhood near Pimlico. "It's going to be (Klarman's) birthday tomorrow and I'm happy for him because he grew up in this town, Baltimore, and I know it's huge for him."
Brown, known for sharing credit with his staff, said, "We're so happy to have Javier on this horse. He rode an excellent race. I have to thank my whole staff. I'm out here giving the interview and they did so much work developing this horse."
Cloud Computing didn't get a lot of notice before the race largely because he didn't race in the Derby and didn't race at all as a two-year old. His three races prior to the Preakness were in New York at Aqueduct where he had decent showings in the Gotham Stakes (second) and the Wood Memorial (third).
Cloud Computing's connection made it clear all along that they were eyeing the Preakness.
"Certainly I'm not going to dispute the fact that I brought in a fresh horse as part of our strategy," Brown said. "Our horse is very talented, too. Classic Empire and Always Dreaming are two outstanding horses and our strategy was, if we are ever going to beat them let's take them on two weeks' rest when we have six, and it worked."
After the Preakness, Brown would not commit to running Cloud Computing in the Belmont Stakes in New York June 10. The Belmont is a grueling 1 1/2-mile race.
"Do I think he's a mile and half horse? He's really never struck me that way, but I'm not going to rule it out," Brown said.
Klarman, who grew up in Mt. Washington, said he has been in the horse racing business for about 25 years and clearly, this is the high point.
"I grew up three blocks from here, was a big fan of racing from a kid. Came to the Peakness many, many times. Never imagined I'd own a horse let alone be the winning owner of the Preakness. Chad had a plan for bringing the horse here; he had a plan for how the race was going to be run. And we sat exactly where we wanted to. Javier executed just perfectly on Chad's plan and here we are right now."
There have been just 12 Triple Crown winners in racing history. The most recent was American Pharoah in 2015 ending a drought that had lasted since 1978 when Affirmed swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. In the decade of the 1970s, three horses won the Triple Crown, including Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed, but as the decades passed there was a question whether it would ever be done again and the performance of Always Dreaming showed once again what a tough feat it is.
Earlier Races At Pimlico
The $250,000 Dixie Stakes for three-year olds and up saw a flashy gray five-year old, World Approval, cover the 1 1/16 miles over turf in 1:43.15 and win by 2 1/4 lengths. Ridden by Julien Leparoux, World Approval stalked pace-setter Security Risk and finally took charge at the top of the stretch. World Approval paid $7.00 to win. Projected, with Joel Rosario aboard, was second and Blacktype, with Jose Ortiz in the irons, was third.
In the $150,000 Gallorette Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race on the turf for fillies and mares three-years old and up, Cambodia bested a field of seven other competitors winning by two lengths in 1:44.35. Ridden by Florent Geroux, Cambodia, who has been a winner at Laurel Park, paid $11.20 to win. She was followed across the finish line by On Leave with Jose Ortiz riding and Elysea’s World with Joel Rosario aboard.
Whitmore captured the $150,000 Maryland Sprint when he caught the two leaders late and won the six-furlong sprint by a half-length in 1:09.90. A.P. Indian and Awesome Banner were battling for the lead when Whitmore, with Ricardo Santana Jr. riding, made his move. The winner paid $4.40 to win. A.P. Indian finished second just a head in front of third-place finisher Awesome Banner. A.P. Indian's jockey was Joe Bravo and Awesome Banner was guided by Javier Castellano.
In the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes, No Mo Dough caught Time to Travel in the stretch and won by 2 3/4 lengths. The winner covered the 1 1/16 miles over dirt in 1:44.13 and paid $20.00 to win. The race for three-year olds featured nine colts and No Mo Dough, with Jose Ortiz in the irons, motored from eighth position to catch front-runner Time to Travel in the stretch. Time to Travel, with John Velazquez riding, was second and True Timber, with Joel Rosario aboard, was third.
A Japanese-bred, Yoshida, won the $100,000 John W. Murphy Stakes, a mile run over turf for three-year olds, as he came from the back of the field in a 12-horse race and crossed he finish line four lengths in front of his nearest challenger, Chubby Star. Yoshida was ridden by Joel Rosario and finished in 1:36.83 paying $7.60 to win. Chubby Star was ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., and third-place finisher Mo Maverick had Luis Saez aboard.