The two bolted out of the gates and ran neck-and-neck for most of the race.
Classic Empire stood in second behind Always Dreaming until taking the lead at the top of the stretch.
And on Saturday, as if it were some supernatural reward for all of their patience and the desire to do the right thing for their horse, Cloud Computing posted a mild upset and captured Saturday’s 142 running of the Preakness after an impressive stalking trip under Javier Castellano, running down…
As the Derby champ, Always Dreaming will have a bulls-eye on his back in a smaller field going a shorter distance than two weeks ago. Always Dreaming suffered his first defeat in five starts this season.
At that point, Classic Empire’s Toronto-based trainer Mark Casse thought he was headed there, too.
Instead, it was Cloud Computing, always within 3 lengths of the lead, who seemed to gain speed and strength with every stride.
“I never run any horse two turns first out”, said Walsh, who noted that the only one-turn option at Fair Grounds was six furlongs.
“We sit behind and watch”, he said.
I yearn for the days when horses were made of something stronger than popsicle sticks, didn’t need pampering and could run 25 times a year. “It was just that he put so much into the Derby that it wasn’t meant to be”. He stalked the dueling pair from third and when he pushed the button, Cloud Computing was good enough to get past Classic Empire.
If those two do skip the Belmont, the likely favorite would be Classic Empire. “I didn’t have it”. And that’s big. Once he got a spot early, we figured the race can be won or lost in that first turn.
The next stop is New York’s Belmont Stakes on June 10, where the final jewel is up for grabs.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, Cloud Computing ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:55.98.
For Brown, Cloud Computing’s victory was a rebuttal to those who believed that as accomplished as he was as a trainer of turf horses, he still had not figured out how to win where America’s most prestigious races are run: on the dirt.
Cloud Computing returned $28.80, $8.60 and $6. Third-place finisher Senior Investment paid $10.20. This year, Cloud Computing’s victory earned a $1.5 million purse. If we win 20 percent of time, that’s pretty good.
It was hardly the profile of a typical Preakness champion. 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. “He’s a great horse”.
In order to claim the Triple Crown, a horse must win the Preakness.
Brown dedicated the victory to his late training mentor, Bobby Frankel, who won nearly every major American race but the Derby or the Preakness.
“I know I’m young, but you have to have an incredible team of people that share a common goal”, Brown said. “Without his mentorship, I certainly wouldn’t be here”. He then noted that the Preakness had eluded Frankel, the victor of the 2003 Belmont Stakes and four Breeders’ Cup races, and said, “I feel this is for him, at least from my viewpoint”.
“I’m not going to dispute the fact I brought in a fresh horse”.
They contemplated pushing him into the Derby field but opted for a more cautious approach.
Brown and owners Seth Klarman and William Lawrence used a conservative approach to set up Cloud Computing’s Preakness triumph.
“We don’t really know”, Brown said. “He’s never really struck me that way, but I’m not going to rule it out”, he said. “I like to go out”. He and Klarman generally have 50-60 yearlings a season, and they’ve won some 450 races. We’ll see. Initially it looks like he came back well. “But this … this is different”.