Cloud Computing edges Classic Empire to capture Preakness Stakes

"Certainly I'm not going to dispute the fact that I brought in a fresh horse as part of our strategy", said Brown, last year's Eclipse Award-winning trainer, who scored his first ever win in a Triple Crown race.

A stunning, upset win. He was only the fourth horse in 34 years to win the Preakness without running in the Kentucky Derby. It was just the dark brown colt's fourth career start, the fewest of any horse in the race, and only his second win. At mid-race, Classic Empire looked the likely victor. His main challenger appears to be fourth-place Derby finisher Classic Empire at 3/1 and runner up Lookin At Lee, who now stands at 10/1.

Todd Pletcher's Always Dreaming, sent off as the 6-5 favorite, broke sharply and took the lead in the field of 10, with Mark Casse's Classic Empire just off his side. Pletcher addressed whether the pace was too fast.

Classy trainer Todd Pletcher has met every media obligation during the almost two weeks he has spent in Baltimore, but he's a low-key media guy and he tried hard to keep the peace around Always Dreaming. "He ran so hard in the Derby and today just wasn't his day".

And when it looked like Classic Empire had it won down the straight with Always Dreaming weakening on straightening, Cloud Computing - ridden by Javier Castellano - emerged and got in narrowly.

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. In the Derby, Classic Empire was slammed by McCraken at the start and pinballed among horses as they headed for the first turn. Others from the Preakness under consideration for the Belmont are Multiplier (6th; The Factor) and Conquest Mo Money (7th; Uncle Mo).

That didn't happen, however.

Lookin At Lee, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, delivers a fierce effort every time out, even if he's perhaps not as talented as the best horses in the class.

"We got a lovely, attractive trip in the Preakness and the horse really responded", said Brown, whose Preakness victor was his first starter in the 13⁄16-mile race.

Classic Empire, rated 3-1 in the early line, also seems primed for the race after jogging a mile and galloping a mile in his Thursday workout.

Falter he did. Badly. Hence was ninth and Term of Art last.

After Cloud Computing came third in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in April, 38-year-old Brown made a decision to target the third Saturday in May instead of the first, and he duly collected the blanket of Black-eyed Susans. Then Mr. Brown gave me the opportunity to ride the horse in the Preakness. "He tried to kick back, but we were second-best today".

Cloud Computing, a lightly raced long shot ridden masterfully by Javier Castellano, chased down Classic Empire in the stretch to win the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes on Saturday, ending Always Dreaming's quest to claim the coveted Triple Crown.

Brown was non-committal about the likelihood of Cloud Computing's turning out again for next month's Belmont Stakes. He was just telling me he remembers coming out as a kid to the infield. We've run four horses in the Derby. "I never imagined I'd own a horse, let alone be the victor of the Preakness".

"(Velazquez) said he felt like turning up the backside, he didn't have quite as much horse underneath him as he expected or was hoping to have", Pletcher said. It felt like he was on a loose rein by the time they turned up the backside.

The victor was not controversial, and while Leparoux should have to explain to trainer Mark Casse exactly why he moved Classic Empire so soon, there were no excuses.

  • Julie Sanders