On the way over to the paddock and the opportunity to saddle his horse for the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes, trainer Mark Casse said that all he wanted was a fair shot to win.
He got it. His horse, Classic Empire got it. But, in the end, they didn’t get it.
Cloud Computing, who got a six week vacation after a lackluster performance in the Wood Memorial, stormed from off the pace to catch Classic Empire in the final 1/16th of a mile and then pull away to win the second leg of this year’s Triple Crown.
Classic Empire, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Arkansas Derby before he had a troubled fourth place finish in the Kentucky Derby, held on for second. Senior Investment, the winner of the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in his last start, stormed from way back to grab third for trainer Kenny McPeek.
Always Dreaming, the impressive winner of the Kentucky Derby, was passed by Classic Empire in the final turn – about a half mile from the finish – and then faded throughout the stretch, before struggling home eighth – beating only two horses.
Lookin’ at Lee, who was second in the Derby, rallied to finish fourth, just inches ahead of Gunnevera.
“This is a great, great win for my family,” said winning jockey Javier Castellano, as he walked his way back to the winner’s circle aboard Cloud Computing and was interview by NBC on-site reporter Donna Barton. “My father was a jockey for 25 years; my uncle; my brother. This is a family thing.”
It was Castellano’s second win in the Preakness. When asked if this leg of the Triple Crown was now his favorite, Castellano grinned and said the most political savy statement in the brink of fire:
“I just want to thank God and thank Mr. Brown for this chance,” said Castellano, who has never won the Kentucky Derby despite a Hall of Fame career. He jumped off of Gunnevera after the Derby to ride Cloud Computing in the Preakness.
It was the first Triple Crown win for up-and-coming trainer Chad Brown, too. Since going out on his own, Brown has been known throughout racing circles as a top conditioner of grass and turf horses.
Now, he can lay claim to one of the best dirt races in United States racing history – the Preakness Stakes.
“There is no doubt about it,” said Brown, when asked by NBC’s Bob Neumeier, who asked Brown if having a 6-week layoff may have helped his horse against Always Dreaming and Classic Empire, who were coming off just the Derby just two weeks ago. “We knew if we were going to have a chance against two great horses like that, we might as well get our rest. This is a dream come true.”
It was a dream come true for the owner, too.
Seth Klamar, the owner of co-owner of Cloud Computing, is from Baltimore. He formed Klaravich Stables with his old friend, Jeff Ravich. He owns Cloud Computing with William Lawrence. But it was Klamar who used to attend the Preakness by coming to the infield and straining to catch a glimpse.
On Saturday, he got to see how he wanted and all he needed. A day before his next birthday, he saw his horse surge to the lead and win the Preakness in stylish fashion.
“I can’t belive it,” Klamar said after the race to the NBC cameras. “I used to come here as a kid. It’s my birthday tomorrow. This is the greatest trainer-jockey team in the world right here.”
When asked by NBC announcer Bob Costas if they would now make plans to run in the Belmont Stakes – the third leg of the Triple Crown – Brown dodged a bullet and a firm commitment.
“We are going to enjoy this one right now. If we come out of it OK, we may show up there,” Brown said.