In a stunner, Cloud Computing won the Preakness Stakes, spoiling Always Dreaming’s bid at a Triple Crown.
The 142nd Preakness was billed as a head-to-head battle between Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Classic Empire, who was looking for revenge after a rough trip two weeks ago at Churchill Downs. And for three-quarters of the race, that’s exactly what it was, with Always Dreaming running in the lead, and Classic Empire on his right hip the entire way.
But as they rounded the final turns, Always Dreaming began to fade, ceding the lead to Classic Empire, who was, it appeared, home free.
But out of nowhere came Cloud Computing, who entered the race at 13-1 odds. The three-year old ridden by Javier Castellano had run third for most of the way, but at the top of the stretch blew by Always Dreaming and eventually caught Classic Empire just a few feet from the finish line, beating him by a nose in 1:55.98.
Senior Investment (30-1) finished third. Always Dreaming faded to eighth.
Was this expected? No. No. No. Always Dreaming won the Derby as the favorite in somewhat easy fashion. But that was a bit misleading. Classic Empire might as well have been a co-favorite, but his Derby got off to a brutal start when he got side-slammed right out of the gate. That took him out of contention and eliminated Always Dreaming’s main competition.
So while Always Dreaming went into the Preakness as the 6-5 favorite, Classic Empire was right there at 2-1 – essentially a co-favorite again. Hence, the pre-race billing, and the relative anonymity of the rest of the field, including Cloud Computing – the sixth favorite in a 10-horse race.
So how did this happen? Well, for starters, there was a reason for the 37-year Triple Crown drought before American Pharoah broke it two years ago: it’s hard to win three races in five weeks.
More precisely, Todd Pletcher, trainer for Always Dreaming, isn’t a fan of racing his horses on two-weeks rest. It’s why he often skips the Preakness if he doesn’t have a Derby winner and goes to the Belmont, his home track, with a rested stable. He didn’t have that choice this time around.
Coincidentally or not, Pletcher’s only other Derby winner, Super Saver in 2010, also finished eighth at the Preakness, the only leg of the Triple Crown Pletcher hasn’t won.
On the flip side, Cloud Computing, trained by Chad Brown, was fresh, having not competed in the Derby and working on six weeks rest.
What’s next? The Belmont Stakes on June 10.
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