2017-05-20 19:38:02
Always Dreaming’s Triple Crown Hopes End as Cloud Computing Takes the Preakness

19:38, May 20 272 0

BALTIMORE — There will be no Triple Crown this year as Cloud Computing thundered down the stretch in the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes as Always Dreaming faded, rendering next month’s Belmont Stakes a race that has lost its potentially historic dimensions.

Cloud Computing, ridden by Javier Castellano, overtook Classic Empire late to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown on Saturday. He completed the mile and three-sixteenth in 1 minute 55.98 seconds at Pimlico Race Course. Always Dreaming, the Kentucky Derby winner and clear favorite, finished eighth after going head-to-head with Classic Empire for much of the race. Senior Investment was third.

Cloud Computing, whose trainer, Chad Brown, kept him out of the Kentucky Derby, paid his backers $28.80 for a $2 bet. It was the first Triple Crown win for Brown and the second for Castellano, who also won in 2006 aboard Bernardini.

Classic Empire appeared to have taken control of the race after pulling away from Always Dreaming and moving to the rail. But Cloud Computing mounted a furious charge. Julien Leparoux and Classic Empire held Cloud Computing at bay briefly, before one final kick by the winner.

Classic Empire’s trainer, Mark Casse, had been eager for this race after finishing fourth in the Derby. Everything that could have gone wrong in the Derby did for Classic Empire: He was slammed by another rival, McCraken, at the start and pinballed among horses as they headed for the first turn

Always Dreaming, a late-blooming colt, had won four straight races before the Preakness, and there were high hopes that he could win here and transform the Belmont Stakes into a race where immortality would be at stake. For 37 years, from Affirmed’s 1978 Triple Crown sweep to American Pharoah’s in 2015, no horse could grab the sport’s greatest prize, although 13 went to the Belmont with their chances alive.

In Kentucky, Always Dreaming had a perfect, front-running trip on a rain-soaked course that bedeviled many of his rivals, especially Classic Empire. The trainer of Always Dreaming, Todd Pletcher, worried whether his colt could win on just two weeks’ rest. Pletcher is a seven-time champion trainer whose horses have earned a staggering $339 million. He runs a multi-branch stable that studies an array of speed, trip and pace numbers.

Pletcher is as good a sabermetrician as he is a horseman, and he had run only eight horses here previously, because he prefers giving them a five-week break between races. He usually takes his Derby contenders back to his base in New York, skipping the Preakness and training until the Belmont. He has won two Derbys and two Belmonts, but he is still looking for first Preakness victory.