Early Voting Follows Game Plan to Win 147th Preakness Stakes

May 21st, 2022

Klaravich Stables, Brown Double Up in Middle Jewel

BALTIMORE – Early Voting captured the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course Saturday, providing Klaravich Stables Inc. and trainer Chad Brown with a second win in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown by following their game plan with 2017 victor Cloud Computing.

Like Cloud Computing, Early Voting bypassed the Kentucky Derby (G1) two weeks earlier and joined the Triple Crown campaign in the Preakness.

Saturday’s Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown headlined a 14-race program featuring 10 stakes, including six graded races. The Preakness Day celebration included InfieldFest, an infield celebration featuring popular music and recording artists, Chainsmokers, Marshmello, Frank Walker and Moneybagg Yo.

Klaravich Stable Inc.’s Seth Klarman, who grew up in Baltimore a few blocks from Pimlico, celebrated his 65th birthday in style while watching Early Voting’s thoroughly professional 1 ¼-length victory over 6-5 favorite Epicenter in the 1 3/16-mile spring classic for 3-year-olds.

Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Early Voting broke alertly to chase early pacesetter Armagnac along the front-stretch and around the first turn following a 24.32-second first quarter of a mile. After the first half-mile was completed in 47.44, the 5.70-1 third-betting choice was still the closest pursuer of Armagnac along the backstretch and around the far turn. Ortiz said, ‘Go,’ leaving the turn into the homestretch, and the son of Gun Runner responded by opening up a 3 ½-length lead in mid-stretch.

Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Epicenter, who finished second behind 80-1 longshot Rich Strike in the Kentucky Derby, had a less-than-ideal trip under Joel Rosario. Squeezed back between horses shortly after the start, Epicenter saved ground while racing in eighth on the backstretch. The son of Not This Time staged an inside rally on the far turn and through the stretch but was no match for the fresh legs of Early Voting, settling for second again, 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Creative Minister, who raced evenly for jockey Brian Hernandez.

Briland Farm’s Secret Oath, the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner who was the only filly and the 5-1 second betting choice in the nine-horse Preakness field, finished fourth for trainer D. Wayne Lukas after dropping back to last in early traffic. Skippylongstocking, Simplification, Armagnac, Happy Jack and Fenwick completed the order of finish.

Early Voting, who ran 1 3 /16 miles in 1:54.54, got a late start in his racing career but showed a lot of promise while winning his Dec. 21 debut at Aqueduct by 1 ½ lengths at a mile. The $200,000 purchase at the 2020 Keeneland September sale came right back to capture the Withers (G3) by 4 ½ lengths on Feb. 5. He earned sufficient qualifying points to run in the Kentucky Derby when he finished second, beaten a neck by Mo Donegal, in the April 9 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, but Brown opted to wait for the Preakness with the lightly experienced colt.

Cloud Computing finished third in the 2017 Wood Memorial in his third career start, and Brown chose to wait for the Preakness, which the son of Maclean’s Music won by a head over Classic Empire.

The 2022 Triple Crown series concludes in the June 11 Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, but Brown didn’t commit to the 1 ½-mile classic following Early Voting’s Preakness triumph.

Preakness Stakes Quotes

Winning trainer Chad Brown, Early Voting: “I was really feeling pretty good. This horse, he’s better with a target. I think when we ran him in the Wood, he was waiting on horses when he got to the lane. It’s not because he can’t go that far. So, I was hoping for a target, somebody would send. Given the way the track was playing all day, very speed favoring, I certainly wasn’t going to take him out of his game. So, we were prepared to go to the lead. But when the other horse went to the front, [jockey] Jose [Ortiz] got a good position with a target in front of him. I felt very good on the backside.

“You know how hard it is. When you’re training horses, oftentimes plans don’t work. Things happen. And when you have a wonderful partner and close friend in Seth [Klarman], we try to do things that make sense.”

“I don’t know about a mile and a half in three weeks, but we’ll take a look at it. I can tell you he’s going to go to Belmont [Park], so we’ll start there. But, to win this race on Seth’s birthday, three blocks from Pimlico, where he grew up, he’s one of my very best friends, to be able to deliver a gift like that to somebody, it’s hard to explain to people. On a personal level, very gratifying for me.”

Winning jockey Jose Ortiz, Early Voting: (NBC Broadcast): “It’s a huge race. It’s a dream come true. It’s amazing to share this moment with my family, my mom and dad. I know they’re watching, and my wife and kids are here.”

“I’ve been on him since he was a baby. We always knew he was very talented, but we know he was going to be a late developer. He’s always been very nice. We’ve always been very high on him.”

Trainer Steve Asmussen, Epicenter, 2nd: “Disappointed, you know what I mean? Where he was early, and they go 24-and-1 [seconds for the first quarter-mile]. He just left him way too much to do. You’ve got to leave the gates. They go 24-and-1. If you don’t leave the gates, you get one option. First time by, and you saw where he was, he just had too much to overcome to be right at a length at the wire – giving too much away.

“I was past surprised. I was disappointed. You’ve got to leave the gates to have any position whatsoever. When they throw up 24-and-1, and you’re that far back with a horse that obviously has pace and just gave him too much to do.”

(On pre-race instructions): “Try to be away from there cleanly and let them adjust around him. He didn’t get away cleanly, then he just buried him from there.”

“Early Voting is the winner of the Preakness and deserves all the credit for doing so, and nothing but. The silver lining on that is Gun Runner is probably the greatest sire of all time. He’s incredible.”

Jockey Joel Rosario, Epicenter, 2nd: “The break was ok. It looked like everybody wanted to get into position right away. I had to go to another plan, which was to be inside the whole race. He was fine with it, but if I had another opportunity, I wouldn’t have been inside. It’s not what I wanted, but he dealt with it, and we were making up ground. I stayed inside the whole time. Turning for home, I just couldn’t get to the winner. The winner got the jump on me out of the gate. Being inside I had to wait for someone to move. I wanted to take him to the outside but couldn’t and that cost us.”

Trainer Kenny McPeek, Creative Minister, 3rd: “I lost him on the far turn, but he was on the inside – rail trip. I’m curious why he tipped out on the turn, and I’ll ask [jockey] Brian [Hernandez] about that, but I thought he ran a really good race. He showed he deserved that he belonged. Considering his lack of experience, he was fantastic. We just told him it was a two-other-than allowance race.

Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., Creative Minister, 3rd: “Around the second turn, I decided to tip out and try to make a run at him and [Early Voting] just outsprinted us from the quarter-pole home.”

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Secret Oath, 4th: “The fractions being slow like that, it was hard to run down. She flattened out a little bit in the last eighth, trying to do it. She made a big, sweeping run. It wasn’t her day. It looked like she pulled up fine.”

Jockey Luis Saez, Secret Oath, 4th: “She broke the way she was supposed to, but everyone was all over the place. At the half-mile pole, she made her move, but when we came to the top of the stretch, the winner just kept going. It was a tough race.”

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., Skippylongstocking, 5th: “He was a little wide on the first turn and [jockey] Junior[Alvarado] tried to save ground on the backside. He ended up running decent. He wasn’t a disgrace. We will see how he comes out of this race. We may go to the Belmont, you never know. We’ll see how he comes out and make a decision in about a week or so.”

Jockey Junior Alvarado, Skippylongstocking, 5th: “We didn’t have the best trip that I wanted. We were hanging wide in the first turn. I tried to make it up in the second turn but hit a lot of traffic and it was too much to do for him.”

Trainer Antonio Sano, Simplification, 6th: “The horse bled in the race. I’ll send him to the farm for a rest right now. He has never bled.  It was the first time.”

Jockey John Velazquez, Simplification, 6th: “We just didn’t get our way today. Give credit to the winner. It just wasn’t our day, but he tried hard.”

Trainer Tim Yakteen, Armagnac, 7th: “I would have liked to have hung around a little bit more towards the end, but we will regroup and come up with a game plan. He gave us a good scream. It looked like he got tired.”

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., Armagnac, 7th: “We had a perfect trip. My horse broke good, had an early, easy lead and relaxed. At about the half-mile pole, they started putting pressure on us and ran us down. There are some nice horses here, but he is a really nice horse and will keep improving.”

Trainer Doug O’Neill, Happy Jack, 8th: “Tyler rode a great race, and we didn’t have it today. We will regroup. I am proud of this guy. We will give Happy Jack plenty of time and regroup. I thought he had a great trip. Tyler broke well and had him in a great stalking spot and when the real running came, he was a little bit flat. From my angle, I just have to back off him a little bit and refresh him and we’ll be in good shape. 

“Obviously Steve’s horse had looked good all week, and the eventual winner looked great, too. Those two were the logical two choices. We’re extremely proud of our horse.”

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione, Happy Jack, 8th: “My horse broke well and put himself in a good spot following the winner. We were traveling well, went into a drive and I couldn’t keep up. We will live to fight another day.”

Trainer Kevin McKathan, Fenwick, 9th: “It didn’t go as planned again. We’ll just have to regroup. He looks sound. He just kind of flattened out. He kind of got beat up right as they broke. He was bounced around and got out-footed early. Down the backside he was just covered up, eating dirt and kind of flattened out on us.”

Jockey Florent Geroux, Fenwick, 9th: “There weren’t any holes. Hopefully we can get a little better trip next time.”