Early Voting Wins Preakness Under Jose Ortiz
Sunday, May 22, 2022

    BALTIMORE – Early Voting captured the 147th Preakness Stakes 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 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 in front of the grandstnd and around the first turn following a :24.32-second 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. When Ortiz said, ‘Go,’ leaving the turn into the homestretch, the son of Gun Runner responded by opening up a 3 ½-length lead in mid-stretch.

    Winchell Thoroughbreds' Epicenter, who finished second behind 80-1 shot 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 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 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 Gr. III Withers by 4 ½ lengths on Feb. 5. He earned sufficient qualifying points to run in the Derby when he finished second, beaten a neck by Mo Donegal, in the April 9, Gr. II Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, but Brown opted to wait for the Preakness with the lightly-experienced colt.

    Cloud Computing finished third in the 2017 Wood 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 at Belmont Park, but Brown didn’t commit to the 1 ½-mile classic following Early Voting’s Preakness triumph.

    The winning trainer said: “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, Jose 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, 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.”

    Said Ortiz on the 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. 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.”

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