Preak­ness vic­tory ends Al­ways Dream­ing’s Triple Crown bid

Horse who skipped Derby edges Clas­sic Em­pire; Al­ways Dream­ing fades

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHUCK CULPEPPER

bal­ti­more — For so long in the 142nd Preak­ness — more than a minute, even — the prospect of a Triple Crown still burned. Then, at the top of the stretch, it didn’t. Then, for so much of the stretch, a fresh val­i­da­tion for the em­bat­tled Ken­tucky Derby con­tender Clasyou sic Em­pire looked nigh. Then, it didn’t. By the time it all cleared in the cool air be­neath the clouds, the Preak­ness had gone to an in­ter­loper with three pre­vi­ous races in his life­time, and the third Satur­day in May had wrought a fresh batch of re­al­i­ties, as it re­serves the right to do. Ken­tucky Derby cham- pion Al­ways Dream­ing re­vealed a tank on “E” and sighed to eighth, and the ris­ing 38-year-old trainer Chad Brown had an­nexed his loud­est feat yet. Cloud Com­put­ing had looked ev­ery bit as rested as six weeks off might sug­gest as he ig­nored his 13-1 odds and ran down Clas­sic Em­pire in the stretch to fin­ish the 13/ -mile race in 1:55.98, a head faster than Clas­sic Em­pire, with 30-1 long shot Se­nior In­vest­ment run­ning third.

Through the brief, three-race cam­paign of Cloud Com­put­ing, a colt out of Maclean’s Mu­sic with Dis­torted Hu­mor and A.P. Indy as grand­sires, Brown had man­aged his way to his first tri­umph in a

Triple Crown race af­ter seven in Breed­ers’ Cup races and the 2016 Eclipse Award for Out­stand­ing Trainer. His first Preak­ness en­try had be­come his first Preak­ness win and a fourth Preak­ness win­ner since 2000 to have skipped the Ken­tucky Derby, all two weeks af­ter an­other of Brown’s charges, Prac­ti­cal Joke, had run fifth as Brown’s fourth Ken­tucky Derby en­try.

The Cor­nell grad­u­ate who used to work for train­ing bright lights Shug McGaughey and Bobby Frankel had ac­cessed an­other rung of the game, to hear him tell it.

“Ab­so­lutely,” Brown said. “Such a rare race, Triple Crown race, and a huge part for me, for our team, for our clien­tele.” He then noted that the Preak­ness had eluded Frankel, the win­ner of the 2003 Belmont Stakes and four Breed­ers’ Cup races, and said, “I feel this for him, at least from my view­point. And with­out his men­tor­ship I cer­tainly wouldn’t be here.”

That left Al­ways Dream­ing trainer Todd Pletcher, whose $338 mil­lion in earn­ings soar past all oth­ers, in a sit­u­a­tion sim­i­lar to his first try at this with a Derby in 2010. Then, Su­per Saver fin­ished eighth, while Lookin At Lucky won aboard a new jockey, Martin Gar­cia. This time, Al­ways Dream­ing fin­ished eighth, while Cloud Com­put­ing won aboard a new jockey, Javier Castel­lano, who had opted off of Gun­neis vera, his sev­enth-place Derby fin­isher, to­ward Cloud Com­put­ing, and said, “Well, I think I have a lot of con­fi­dence with this horse.”

Back then, Pletcher said, “He tried hard. It was a lit­tle quick for him. I wouldn’t trade the Derby for any­thing.”

On Satur­day evening, Pletcher said, “We didn’t have an ex­cuse,” and, “He ran so hard in the Derby, and to­day just wasn’t his day,” and, “He didn’t seem to rel­ish the track, but I re­ally don’t think that was it. It was just that he put so much into the Derby that it wasn’t meant to be.”

It didn’t nec­es­sar­ily start out that way Satur­day evening for Al­ways Dream­ing, a horse whose up­ward bolt seemed full of mo­men­tum when he won the Flor­ida Derby by five lengths April 1 and the Ken­tucky Derby by 23/4 on May 6.

Even with a trainer who gen­er­ally likes more time than the twowin­ner, week gap be­tween these two clas­sics, Al­ways Dream­ing en­gaged Clas­sic Em­pire in the two-horse race many had an­tic­i­pated, with the former sent off at 6-5 and the lat­ter at 2-1. It’s just that they en­gaged it too soon, of course. By the time they passed Pletcher and much of the crowd of 140,327 the first time, Pletcher thought Al­ways Dream­ing seemed to be “drag­ging” jockey John Ve­lazquez and seemed to be on a “loose rein.”

“I knew I was in trou­ble on the back­stretch,” Ve­lazquez said, “when the other horse got to him, al­most head to head, and en­gaged him. I knew he didn’t have it.”

By the top of the stretch, ev­ery­one knew, and Clas­sic Em­pire set out alone. But the Preak­ness came to tell an­other story, and that in­volved Seth Klar­man, who owns the colt with William Lawrence. They had watched Cloud Com­put­ing’s first three races, all this year at Aque­duct, and had noted his ex­cel­lent look and his ca­pac­ity to over­come hard starts. He had fin­ished first, sec­ond and third — third be­hind Ir­ish War Cry and Bat­tal­ion Run­ner on April 8 in the Wood Memo­rial.

Klar­man, also a Cor­nell grad­u­ate, and a Bos­ton-based in­vest­ment-firm hon­cho, had grown up “three blocks from here,” in his telling, and had “started out as a teenager hand­i­cap­ping” and “en­joy­ing the puz­zle of try­ing to fig­ure out who might win a race.” Ca­reer-wise, he spe­cial­izes in “pa­tient long-term in­vest­ments on be­half of our clients,” he said, while of horse rac­ing, he said, “This is gam­bling.”

He started that “gam­bling” 25 years ago, and con­cluded, “This is the cul­mi­na­tion of 25 years of hard work and learn­ing and try­ing to fig­ure this game out,” ut­ter­ing this af­ter a Preak­ness so few had fig­ured out.

TONI L. SANDYS/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Jockey Javier Castel­lano rides Cloud Com­put­ing, left, past Clas­sic Em­pire and jockey Julien Leparoux to pre­vail in the Preak­ness. Ken­tucky Derby cham­pion Al­ways Dream­ing placed eighth.

TONI L. SANDYS/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

BOT­TOM-ROW PHO­TOS BY JONATHAN NEW­TON/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

At top, jockey Javier Castel­lano cel­e­brates af­ter rid­ing 13-1 long shot Cloud Com­put­ing to vic­tory Satur­day at the Preak­ness Stakes in Bal­ti­more. Above left, fans party in the in­field at Pim­lico Race Course while lis­ten­ing to the mu­sic of Zedd dur­ing a pre-race con­cert. The Black-Eyed Su­san, above mid­dle, is the race’s sig­na­ture drink. Above right, Stephanie Hrin of Alexan­dria sips cham­pagne in the grand­stands.

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