Cloud hangs over Preakness win­ner’s next start

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - CHILDS WALKER

With Preakness cham­pion Cloud Com­put­ing un­cer­tain to start in the Belmont Stakes, the thor­ough­bred rac­ing world faces the strong pos­si­bil­ity of a sec­ond straight year with three dif­fer­ent winners of the three Triple Crown races.

Trainer Chad Brown said Cloud Com­put­ing came out of his up­set vic­tory in good or­der. But even in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­glow at Pim­lico Race Course, he seemed wary of run­ning the colt on three weeks’ rest or at the 1 ½-mile dis­tance of the Belmont.

“Do I think he’s a mile-and-a-half horse? He’s never re­ally struck me that way, but I’m not go­ing to rule it out,” he said. “I’ll leave it as a pos­si­bil­ity right now.”

Brown and own­ers Seth Klar­man and Wil­liam Lawrence used a con­ser­va­tive ap­proach to set up Cloud Com­put­ing’s Preakness tri­umph. So it would be sur­pris­ing if they sud­denly turned ag­gres­sive in sched­ul­ing a horse who still has just four ca­reer starts.

Cloud Com­put­ing was al­ready back in Brown’s barn at Belmont Park 15 hours af­ter the Preakness. His con­nec­tions will make a fi­nal de­ci­sion on his sta­tus for the Belmont Stakes by next week­end. For his part, the 38year-old Brown said he needed to get back to work with his other horses.

“It has sunk in,” he said of his first clas­sic win. “We’re thrilled with the re­sult. The horse looks well and our team here is just so happy with the race yes­ter­day.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher said he’s not sure what’s next for Ken­tucky Derby cham­pion Al­ways Dream­ing, who boarded a van to re­turn to New York on Sun­day morn­ing. Pletcher still couldn’t give a de­fin­i­tive rea­son why Al­ways Dream­ing faded so badly to fin­ish a dis­ap­point­ing eighth.

“Like I kind of cau­tioned ev­ery­one dur­ing the week, some­times you don’t know those things un­til the quar­ter pole, but ev­ery­thing that we had seen, we were happy with,” he said. “I kind of process through it and say, ‘What would I have done dif­fer­ently if I could?’ I don’t know if there’s any­thing I could have changed.”

Among the horses who’ve run the first two legs of the Triple Crown, Preakness run­nerup Clas­sic Em­pire and fourth-place fin­isher Lookin At Lee are most likely to com­plete the se­ries at Belmont Park on June 10.

Clas­sic Em­pire per­haps ran the best com­bined pair of races in the Derby and Preakness but won nei­ther. He over­came a vi­o­lent col­li­sion to fin­ish fourth at Churchill Downs and did the hard work of putting away Derby cham­pion Al­ways Dream­ing on Satur­day, only to be passed in the last few strides by Cloud Com­put­ing.

Trainer Mark Casse said Clas­sic Em­pire was a bet­ter horse Satur­day than he had been two weeks ear­lier.

“He ran his race. We had a fair shot,” Casse said. “We just got beat. I didn’t even know who was com­ing; I re­ally didn’t care who was com­ing. I just knew some­body was com­ing.”

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.

“You don’t get a tremen­dous amount of vari­able,” said As­mussen, who won the Belmont last year with Cre­ator. “What you get is cir­cum­stances, the things that are out of his con­trol, the track con­di­tion and pace sce­nario. He’s just a horse who al­ways does what he can do, and we’re proud of him for that. But with a horse that is as pace-de­pen­dent as he is, there are a lot of things that are out of his hands.”

With two-thirds of the Triple Crown done, we’re no closer than ever to deter­min­ing the star of this year’s 3-year-old crop. A con­found­ing prep sea­son has con­tin­ued right into the big races, with no horse able to string to­gether a run of bril­liant per­for­mances.

TONI L. SANDYS, THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Jockey Javier Castel­lano rid­ing Cloud Com­put­ing, in red and white, just beats Clas­sic Em­pire, rid­den by Julien Leparoux, to a first-place fin­ish in the 142nd run­ning of the Preakness Stakes.

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