• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Cloud Computing rallies in stretch for Preakness win - 5-25-2017

THE 2017 PREAKNESS STAKES came down to a two-horse race between Classic Empire, middle right, with Javier Castellan riding, and to his outside, Cloud Computing, middle left, with Julien Leparoux aboard. At the finish, Cloud Computing caught Classic Empire to win by a head. (Photo by Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)

The 2017 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, May 20, appeared, on paper at least, to be a two-horse race. Always Dreaming, who had won the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 6, was the race favorite with jockey John Velazquez riding him once again, while Eclipse award-winning 2-year-old champion Classic Empire, with jockey Julien Leparoux riding, seemed poised to redeem himself after being bounced around in the Derby and make a serious attempt to capture the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Well, it did turn out to be a two-horse race, but not between those two horses. Coming down the stretch, with 140,327 fans on hand watching, Classic Empire, who had done his part by dispatching Always Dreaming in the final turn, had the lead as the finish line approached. But, to his outside, Cloud Computing, who was ridden by Javier Castellano, was charging hard to catch the race leader. In the end, while Classic Empire fought valiantly to try and hold off his rival, at the wire it was Cloud Computing with the win by a nose. “I think I always had a lot of confidence in this horse, but I didn’t have the opportunity to ride the horse,” said Castellano. “Then, Mr. (Chad) Brown (the winning trainer) gave me the opportunity to ride the horse in the Preakness. It was a great combination and I am blessed to have the opportunity an enjoy the ride.” Owned by Karavich Stables and William H. Lawrence, and trained by Chad Brown, Cloud Computing, who is by Maclean’s Music-Quick Temper, by A.P. Indy, ran the 1-3/16th-mile race on a track rated fast in 1:55.98. With the win, he improved his record to two wins, one second, one third and $1,071,000 in earnings in four career starts. At the start, Always Dreaming broke from gate 4 and went straight to the lead, while next to him, Classic Empire stumbled a little out of gate 5, recovered easily, caught up to Always Dreaming and then stayed right next to him for most of the race. Behind those two, Cloud Computing broke from gate 2 and sat right behind the two leaders near the rail in third place. Always Dreaming and Classic Empire continued to make it a two-horse race as they ran past the grandstand, around the first turn and down the back-stretch side-by-side, while setting fractions of 23.16, 46.81 and 1:11.00. Meanwhile, Cloud Computing was still there right behind them biding his time. As they made their way around the final turn, Always Dreaming, unexpectedly, appeared to tire and fade back, while Classic Empire took the lead into the stretch and seemed as strong as ever. Cloud Computing also held his pace around the turn, and passed Always Dreaming without much effort, as Castellano began to move him out towards the middle of the track. Coming down the stretch, it looked like Classic Empire was running strong and would get the win. But then Cloud Computing began to pick up speed and started to close in on the race leader. Then, with left-hand urging, Cloud Computing caught up to Classic Empire with about 1/16th to go, pulled slightly ahead and crossed the finish line the winner by a head. Classic Empire was second and Senior Investment, who had worked his way back from ninth place, finished third. “I spoke with Mr. Brown before the race,” said Castellano. “We had a plan and we were sticking to the plan and it worked out great. We analyzed the race and handicapped the race together, we had a lot of thoughts and put them together and I think that is the most important thing in a relationship. We have a great communication together and I think that is the key to winning the race.” Leparoux was also happy with his horse’s efforts. “We had a good trip,” he said. “We got the trip we wanted outside Always Dreaming. The only thing is, Always Dreaming backed out of the race early, so I got to the lead early, maybe too early. … And, the winner just came at us at the end. He ran a big, big race. No excuses.” For Brown, who entered the Hall of Fame in 2016, the win was his first Classic victory in just his first Preakness start, while it was the second Preakness win for Castellano. His first was on Bernardini in 2006. (Information gathered from Equibase.com, PedigreeQuery.com, Brisnet.com, BloodHorse.com and PaulickReport.com)

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