Cloud Computing caught Classic Empire in deep stretch and posted a head victory in the 142nd running of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes, becoming the fourth horse in the last 34 years to capture the middle jewel of the Triple Crown without competing in the Kentucky Derby.
Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming retreated late to finish eighth as the 6-5 favorite among 10 runners.
Owned by Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables Inc. and William H. Lawrence, the Chad Brown-trained Cloud Computing was making only his fourth career start in the 1 3/16-mile American classic. Javier Castellano was up on the dark bay son of Maclean’s Music.
“I’m very excited. First of all, thank God for the opportunity,” said Castellano, who was riding Cloud Computing for the first time. “Mr. Brown gave it to me and Mr. Klarman. It’s going to be his (Klarman) birthday tomorrow and I’m happy for him because he grew up in this town, Baltimore, and I know it’s huge for him. I’m so excited for him…(Cloud Computing) gave him a great, great run.”
“We’re so happy to have Javier on this horse,” said Brown, who earned his first win in a Triple Crown race. “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 the horse.”
Julien Leparoux hustled Classic Empire from the gate and the 2-1 second choice took it to the pacesetting Always Dreaming, chasing the Kentucky Derby winner through opening splits of :23.16, :46.81 and 1:11 before forging his way to a short lead on the far turn. Always Dreaming was out of horse by the top of the stretch.
“He just got beat. I didn’t have it,” John Velazquez said of Always Dreaming. “That’s it. Not much to say.”
“He didn’t seem to relish the track, but I don’t really think that was it,” said Todd Pletcher, who has finished off the board in the Preakness with both of his Kentucky Derby winners (Super Saver also finished eighth in 2010). “It was just that he put so much into the Derby that it wasn’t meant to be.”
Cloud Computing stalked the front pair in third, a few lengths back down the backstretch, and waited until the stretch drive to offer his best turn of foot. Classic Empire surged clear turning for home and still led by about three lengths in midstretch, but Cloud Computing came charging late to prevail in front of a record crowd of 140,327 in Baltimore.
The winner paid $28.80 to win after leaving the starting gate as the 13-1 sixth choice and stopped the teletimer in 1:55.98 on the fast Pimlico track.
“It’s special because Chad he gives me a lot of support in my career,” said Castellano, who also captured the 2006 Preakness aboard new shooter Bernardini. “We’ve had a lot of great winners. Today is special, it’s part of the Triple Crown and I’m so happy, really happy.”
Brown, who received the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 2016, said the break was key.
“The first thing was getting a clean break,” said the 38-year-old conditioner. “Here’s a horse that’s only run three times and two of them he broke bad. It’s Javier’s first time riding the horse, I made his aware of (Cloud Computing’s gate issues). What helps in situations like this is that we have good chemistry. He’s ridden a lot of top horses for me and ridden them well. We work well together.
“When I relay information about a horse or a plan, he knows just what I’m talking about and he can get it done. And that’s big. Once he got a spot early, we figured the race can be won or lost in that first turn. And I feel he won that race right in that first turn.”
It was a 4 ¾-length margin from Classic Empire to Senior Investment, who closed belatedly for third at 31-1. Lookin at Lee, Gunnevera, Multiplier and Conquest Mo Money came next under the wire. Hence and Term of Art brought up the rear.
Bred in Kentucky by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings Inc. and Stretch Run Ventures LLC, Cloud Computing was purchased for $200,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale. He hails from the Grade 2-placed A.P. Indy mare Quick Temper, who is out of the Grade 1-winning Halo America and counts Grade 1 runner-up Marino Marini as a half-brother.
Cloud Computing made his first two starts on Aqueduct’s inner track, scoring by 1 ¾ lengths in his career debut at 6-furlongs on February 11. He jumped straight to stakes competition with a commendable runner-up in the March 4 Gotham (G3) and switched to the main track for his previous outing, recording a non-threatening third in the April 8 Wood Memorial (G2).
With the $900,000 pay check, Cloud Computing has now earned $1,071,000.
Brown was asked about preceding to the final leg of the Triple Crown, the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes in three weeks.
“We really don’t know, we were just going to take it race by race with this horse. We’re going to see. Do I think he’s a mile-and-a-half horse? He never really struck me that way, but I’m not going to rule it out. Let’s see how he comes out of it and who is running and get a feel for it. And I’ll leave it as a possibility right now.”