While the connections of Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming saw their dream end in the 142nd Preakness Stakes, a Baltimore guy who grew just a few blocks from Pimlico Race Course, had one come true.
Seth Klarman, who said he became infatuated with horse racing as a kid, is one of the owners of Cloud Computing who outraced second-place finisher Classic Empire to the finish line in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico May 20.
"I started out as a teenager handicapping, enjoying the races, enjoying the athletic performances and enjoying the puzzle of trying to figure out who might win a race," Klarman said.
Klarman has come a long way since the days when he was trying to divine winners at Pimlico.
He's a hedge fund billionaire, according to Forbes, worth about $1.5 billion.
"In my regular life I'm a long-term value investor. So we make patient long-term investments on behalf of our clients," Klarman said.
"This," he said referring to owning race horses, "is gambling."
"This is risky undertaking … but it does provide one of the highest levels of excitement that a person can have," Klarman continued. "It's really been a thrill and this is the highlight of our career so far as thoroughbred owners."
In the Preakness, Klarman watched Cloud Computing cover the 1 3/16-miles in a winning 1:55.98 as a 14-1 starter (he paid $28.80 to win) with Classic Empire finishing second and Senior Investment third. Pre-race favorite Always Dreaming finished eighth after having led early.
Since his colt went on to win the Preakness, it was posed to Klarman whether he regretted skipping the Kentucky Derby. Cloud Computing trainer Chad Brown held his horse out of the Derby and pointed specifically toward the Preakness.
"No regrets. I think possibly some of the reasons we won today was because we were patient and didn't throw an inexperienced horse against a 20-horse field in the Derby on a very difficult track," Klarman said referring to the rain-soaked track at Churchill Downs two weeks ago. "So I think that's actually why we're here today."
Kentucky Derby Winner Falters
Going into the far turn at Pimlico, Always Dreaming, trained by Todd Pletcher, had the lead but was being pressed hard by Classic Empire. Pletcher addressed whether the pace was too fast.
"No. Classic Empire held on for second. He probably went pretty ambitiously at us and maybe cost himself the race," Pletcher said. "But we didn't have an excuse. We were in the position we expected to be and I think the turnaround was a little too quick. (Always Dreaming) ran so hard in the Derby and today just wasn't his day."
Classic Empire Just Misses
Interestingly, Classic Empire Jockey Julien Leparoux said Always Dreaming's dramatic fade may have hurt his own horse's chances.
"We got the trip we wanted, outside Always Dreaming," Leparoux said. "The only thing is, Always Dreaming backed out of the race early, so I got to the lead early, maybe too early. I got to the lead early, and the winner just came at us at the end. (Cloud Computing) ran a big, big race. No excuses."
Castellano Wins Second Preakness
Javier Castellano, Cloud Computing's jockey, made his second trip to the Preakness winner's circle. Castellano also won on Bernardini in 2006. That was additionally the year that Barbaro broke down after leaving the starting gate.
Maryland Jockey Club officials reported that attendance and handle records were set at the 142nd Preakness. The attendance was 140,327, breaking last year's record of 135,256. Total handle on Pimlico's 14-race program was $97,168,658, an increase of 3 percent over the previous record of $94,127,434 and a 14 percent increase over 2015 wagering. The MJC also announced that in-state handle was up 7.1 percent from last year and 10.4 percent from 2015.