Field Begins Shaping up for Belmont Stakes Following Cloud Computing’s Preakness Win

HorseRacingFLA Staff Report

Trainer Chad Brown and his crew welcomed Cloud Computing back to their barn at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., on Sunday morning, after the colt’s dramatic victory in the 142nd Preakness Stakes (Grade 1) at Pimlico Race Course.

Cloud Computing caught Classic Empire in the final fifty yards late Saturday afternoon and won by a head in the 1 3/16-mile race at Pimlico in Baltimore. The winning time was 1:55.98, on the track that was upgraded to fast from good about an hour before the race.image001

Always Dreaming finished eighth in the Preakness, two weeks after his victory in the 1 ¼ mile Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Always Dreaming battled Classic Empire for the lead through the first three-quarters of a mile in the Preakness, but then faded and finished fourteen lengths behind Cloud Computing.

Note: Photo on home page, courtesy of Pimlico, is the finish of the 2017 Preakness

Cloud Computing arrived at Belmont by van around 10:00 a.m. Sunday.

Brown said he will consider running Cloud Computing in the 1 ½ mile Belmont Stakes (Grade 1) at Belmont Park on June 10.

“We haven’t ruled it out,” Brown told the Pimlico media office.  “We’re just going to evaluate the horse this week and probably by next weekend we may have a decision.”

Trainer Mark Casse said he plans to run Classic Empire  in the Belmont, unless a reason develops not to go.

Senior Investment, who finished third Saturday at 37-1, likely will run in the Belmont said his trainer Ken McPeek.

Lookin at Lee also is likely for the Belmont, said trainer Steve Asmussen. Lookin at Lee finished fourth in the Preakness, after coming in second in the Kentucky Derb

Trainer Todd Pletcher said he will not rush to make a decision about Always Dreaming for the Belmont.

“When I spoke to the ownership after the race, we all decided that we wouldn’t make any decisions until we got him home and evaluated how he’s doing,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to make those types of decisions right after a race. We’ll process it for a little while.”

Gunnevera, fifth in the Preakness, was scheduled to be vanned to his home stable at Calder (Gulfstream Park West) in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday evening.

Owner Solomon Del-Valle leads Gunnevara into the Winner's Circle--Fountain of Youth 2012

Owner Solomon Del-Valle leads Gunnevara into the Winner’s Circle–Fountain of Youth 2017, Photo Barry Unterbrimk

“We’ll bring him back to Florida and give him some rest,” said Alessandro Sano, son of trainer Antonio Sano said. “We’ll look at some of the 3-year-old races later in the summer.”

At Gulfstream Park this year, Gunnevera won the Fountain of Youth (Grade 2 ), finished second in the Holy Bull (Grade 2) and finished third in the Florida Derby (Grade 1).

Multiplier, sixth in the Preakness, and Conquest Mo Money, seventh in the Preakness, are possible for the Belmont, according to their respective trainers Brendan Walsh and Miguel  Fernandez.

Hence and Term of Art, ninth and tenth in the Preakness, will not run in the Belmont, said their respective trainers Asmussen and Doug O’Neill.    

Preakness Results

Always Dreaming went to post as the 6-5 favorite and Classic Empire was the 2-1 second choice in the ten-horse Preakness field.

Cloud Computing was sent off at 13-1, the sixth highest odds in the field.

Always Dreaming was favored based on his wins in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby.

Classic Empire won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade 1) at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and was voted the winner of the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old.

In his race prior to the Kentucky Derby, Classic Empire won the Arkansas Derby April 15 at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.  He finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, despite being bumped heavily coming out of the gate and bumped again early in the stretch run.

Cloud Computing was double digit odds largely because he came into the Preakness with just three starts—all this year at Aqueduct in Ozone Park, N.Y. On the inner track, he had a maiden win and a second-place finish in the Gotham (Grade 3).

On April 8, Cloud Computing finished third in the Wood Memorial (Grade 2) on Aqueduct’s main track.

Cloud Computing, a son of Maclean’s Music, had enough qualifying points to get into the Kentucky Derby.  But Brown and the colt’s owners decided to give him a break of six weeks, rather than four weeks, between races.

Cloud Computing is owned by the partnership of Klaravich Stables, whose principal is Seth Klarman, and William Lawrence.

Always Dreaming, ridden by regular jockey John Velazquez, was in post four.

Classic Empire was in post five, under regular rider Julien Leparoux.

Cloud Computing was in post two, with Javier Castellano riding him for the first time.

Castellano rode Gunnevera in his Gulfstream races this year and in the Kentucky Derby.

He accepted a request from Brown, for whom he rides in many stakes, to get on board Cloud Computing.

Sano turned to Mike Smith to ride Gunnevera.  That was a switch from a jockey who in July will be inducted into racing’s National Hall of Fame and Museum to one who was inducted in 2003.

As many handicappers expected, the two favorites shot out to the lead.  Always Dreaming was in front by a half-length after a half mile in 46.81 seconds and by a head after three-qu0arters in 1:11.00.

Cloud Computing was third in the early going, and was three lengths from the lead after three-quarters.

After AlwaysDreaming began to fade, Cloud  Computing  moved into second place and began to gain steadily on Classic Empire.

Cloud Computing won in 1:55.98 on the track listed as fast.

Jockey Javier Castellano holds the 2017 Preakness Trophy Photo from Pimlico

Jockey Javier Castellano holds the 2017 Preakness Trophy
Photo from Pimlico

Heavy rain fell in Baltimore on Friday night and early Saturday morning. The dirt track was listed as muddy when Saturday racing began at 11:00 a.m. Pimlico officials upgraded it to good in  mid-afternoon  and to fast prior TO the Preakness.

Senior Investment, ridden by Channing Hill, was tenth after three-quarters of a mile.  He then began surging around the turn, and finished 4 ¾ lengths behind  Classic Eme.

A half length, a nose and a neck separated third through  sixth place finishers Senior Investment, Lookin at Lee,  Gunnevera and Multiplier.

“It has sunk in,” Brown said on Sunday. “We’re thrilled with the result. The horse looks well and our team here is just so happy with the race yesterday. We got a beautiful, beautiful trip in the Preakness and the horse really responded.”

For Classic Empire and Lookin at Lee, the Preakness was the third race in five weeks. For Always Dreaming and Gunnevera the Preakness was the third race in seven weeks.

Following the Preakness, some analysts noted that “the fresh horse won.”

Instead, our overview is that the favorites got hooked in a battle for the lead.  One of those horses could not keep up with the pace.  The other continued on, but was caught by  a stalker who had a favorable trip.  The closers, who came in third through sixth, were too far back on a day when the track did not favor their running styles.

* Even amid the rain, the attendance at Pimlico was a Preakness day record 140,327.  That broke last year’s record of 135,256.

*All-sources handle for the 14-race Preakness day card was a record  $97,168,658. That was a 3 percent increase over the previous record of $94,127,434 that was set in 2016,

*The odds were 9-1 on fourth place finisher Lookin at Lee and 11-1 on fifth place finisher Gunnevera.  That led to a series of large payoffs, listed below.

2 -CLOUD COMPUTING                    28.80    8.60    6.00

5 -CLASSIC EMPIRE                                       4.40     4.00

8 -SENIOR INVESTMENT                                         10.20

$2 EXACTA 2-5 PAID $98.40; $1 SUPERFECTA 2-5-8-9

PAID $8,162.80; $1 SUPER HIGH FIVE 2-5-8-9-6

PAID $283,223.40; $2 TRIFECTA 2-5-8 PAID $2,194.60