Chad Brown Breaks Through at Preakness Stakes

Cloud Computing, who finished third in the Wood Memorial (G2) and Gotham Stakes (G3) after breaking his maiden in his February 11 debut, is the first horse to win the Preakness after bypassing the Kentucky Derby since Bernardini gave jockey Javier Castellano his first victory in the 1 3/16-mile Classic in 2006.

The Triple Crown buzz reached a fever pitch Saturday when Always Dreaming led his Preakness rivals while passing the Pimlico grandstand for the first time, but expectations for an encore performance of his Kentucky Derby romp dropped with a thud when the 6-5 favorite fell out of contention on the far turn.

It was the first win in a Triple Crown race for Brown, the 2016 Eclipse Award victor, who chose to point his lightly-raced colt - Saturday was just Cloud Computing's fourth career start; his first since a third-place finish in the Wood Memorial on April 8 - away from the Kentucky Derby and toward the Preakness.

That mirrors the status of Always Dreaming, the Kentucky Derby victor who was eighth in the Preakness, setting up the very real possibility neither will be in the Belmont, the final leg of the Triple Crown, on June 10 at Belmont Park.

Casse said he would look "for the same thing we always look for" when making sure that the Belmont is the correct target for Classic Empire's next race.

Unlike in the Derby, in which Classic Empire was mugged leaving the gate, he had a clean trip Saturday.

It appeared that Classic Empire, who came in with 2-1 odds as of post time, would take the race by a few lengths.

Brown was non-committal about the likelihood of Cloud Computing's turning out again for next month's Belmont Stakes.

And by the second time in front of the grandstand, Always Dreaming was almost nowhere to be found, a well-beaten eighth before an announced crowd of 140,327 on a cool, cloudy day at Pimlico Race Course.

"I've handled plenty of stakes horses for them over the years and we break and train many of their yearlings and 2-year-olds and send them on to trainers, primarily Chad Brown at the moment".

"We trust Chad and feel very confident in him", Lawrence said. That led Pletcher, who was thrilled with the colt's preparations at Pimlico, to speculate Always Dreaming might lack the stamina to run on two weeks' rest.

"Absolutely", Brown said. "Such a rare race, Triple Crown race, and a huge part for me, for our team, for our clientele".

Cloud Computing is co-owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence. "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 hard track". I've always praised my mentor [the late Hall of Famer] Bobby Frankel, who taught me so much.

"I didn't think there was much speed in the race other than Riker", said the veteran rider.

"He probably went pretty ambitiously at us and maybe cost himself the race", Pletcher said.

The jury is still out on Classic Empire, who has had two Triple Crown trips that were not the best. It felt like he was on a loose rein by the time they turned up the backside, That's kind of what we anticipated Classic Empire would do, take it to us, but he just didn't have that reserve today.

What made the success even more remarkable was that Cloud Computing was only having only the fourth start of his career and had never previously scored outside maiden company, with trainer Brown better known for his prowess with turf horses. "He ran so hard in the Derby and today just wasn't his day", said Pletcher. "We just got beat". With 100 yards to go, it was becoming obvious that for the ninth time in the past 13 years the victor of the Kentucky Derby was not getting the bed of Black Eyed Susans that gets draped over the victor.

"I know what he likes and he knows what I like and we work very well together", Ryan said.

NOTES: Lookin At Lee, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby as a 33-1 long shot, finished fourth.

  • Zachary Reyes