Seth Klarman will never forget his 65th birthday.
Early Voting won the Preakness Saturday for the horse owner, who grew up three blocks from Pimlico and used to walk to the track in his youth.
Early Voting, under jockey Jose Ortiz, lugged in through the stretch of the Preakness Stakes and managed to hold off Epicenter in the second jewel of the Triple Crown. He was clear of the race favorite while moving toward the rail in the deep stretch.
“We had a similar game plan to come in here,” said trainer Chad Brown, whose Cloud Computing won the Preakness five years ago after skipping the Kentucky Derby for Klarman. “I am so happy to deliver a Classic victory for one of my best friends, Seth Klarman on his birthday.”
Jockey Ortiz was emotional, crying after the race.
“It is a huge race,” Ortiz said., “A dream come true. I know my mom and dad watched and my wife and kids are here.
“Chad has been very supportive of me from Day One. They did the right choice by the horse. I don’t think he was seasoned enough to run in the Derby. We knew he was very talented and a late developer.”
Early Voting wins the 147th @PreaknessStakes!
— America’sBestRacing (@ABRLive) May 22, 2022
Epicenter went off as the Preakness favorite. Strangely, though, his Belmont stakes odds were higher than his morning line of 6-5. Another bizarre betting twist saw Fenwick, list at 50-1 on the morning line in single digits for much of the day and then rise to 10-1.
The half went in :47 2/5 seconds with the longest shot on the board Armagnac on the lead but Early Voting took control and weaved through the stretch while holding off Epicenter, who finished second as he did in the Kentucky Derby.
Early Voting returned $13.40 to win for a $2 bet. Epicenter was second and Creative Minister finished third.
The exacta paid $25.80. The trifecta returned $66.50.
Watch it again! Early Voting wins the Preakness.pic.twitter.com/rjft68lD8S
— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 22, 2022
“Winning once was the dream of a lifetime,” Klarman said. “Winning twice is beyond belief. All credit to Chad Brown.
“We thought he would need a little more seasoning … we wanted to right by the horse.”
Klarman indicated the Belmont stakes 2022 might not be in the future for the Preakness winner, suggesting he would be pointed for other big races later in the summer. The Belmont is at 1 1/2 miles and Klarman does not think that distance suits Early Voting. He did say he would speak with Brown before a decision was made.
This could be the first Belmont since 2017 without the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners. Always Dreaming won the Derby in 2017 and Cloud Computing took the Preakness. The Belmont was won by Tapwrit with neither winners of the first two jewels of the Triple Crown in the field.
The second choice in this Preakness was the filly, Secret Oath, who won the Kentucky Oaks, at 9-2, and finished off the board. The original second choice on the morning line, Early Voting was floating around 6-1 throughout, settling at 5-1 when the gate opened.
The race was without the Kentucky Derby winner, Rich Strike, who shocked the Run for the Roses at 80-1 odds.
Trainer Eric Reed and owner Rick Dawson decided it would be best for Rich Strike to not return on two weeks’ rest for the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Reed made a salient point during an interview with NBC Sports on the Preakness broadcast.
Reed said he was looking out for the best for Rich Strike, who needs 5-6 weeks between his starts.
The fascinating point, though, was as much controversy was stirred by Rich Strike missing the Preakness, Reed said it would have been worse if his charge won it and then didn’t race in the Belmont.
Reed said there was no way Rich Strike would have been able to return for the June 11 race that concludes the Triple Crown at 1 1/2 miles even if he were to have won the Preakness Stakes.
Learn More About Preakness Stakes 2022
If horse racing and sports fans were upset with Rich Strike passing on the Preakness, imagine the overall reaction if a winner of the first two jewels of the Triple Crown skipped the Belmont. That is precisely what Reed said would have had to happen.
And now, Early Voting could skip the Belmont odds as Cloud Computing did five years ago.
Horse racing history repeats itself.
— Nicole Russo (@DRFRusso) May 21, 2022