BALTIMORE – The Latest on the 147th running of the Preakness Stakes (all times local):
Early Voting won the Preakness Stakes, holding off a late challenge from fast-closing favorite Epicenter, who was the runner-up in a second consecutive Triple Crown race.
Early Voting's win validated the decision to skip the Kentucky Derby and aim for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. The Preakness went off without Rich Strike, who passed favorite Epicenter to win the Derby at 80-1.
This time it was Epicenter that was trying to make up ground at the end, but Early Voting was well rested six weeks after his most recent race. He won by 1 1/4 lengths.
Early Voting gave trainer Chad Brown his second Preakness victory. He’s also owned by Klaravich Stables, which won the race in 2017 with Cloud Computing. Jockey Jose Ortiz won the Preakness for the first time.
The horse whose removal from the Kentucky Derby let eventual winner Rich Strike into the field won a stakes race on the Preakness undercard.
D. Wayne Lukas-trained Ethereal Road came from the back of the pack to win the $100,000 Sir Barton roughly two hours before post time for the Preakness. He went off as the 3-2 favorite.
Lukas apologized to Epicenter trainer Steve Asmussen for withdrawing Ethereal Road from the Derby at the eleventh hour. Rich Strike was entered just before the deadline and passed Epicenter down the stretch to win at odds of 80-1.
Epicenter remains the favorite for the Preakness, which is being run without Rich Strike after his owner said the horse needed more rest and would be considered for the Belmont Stakes on June 11.
Fenwick is no longer the biggest long shot at the Preakness.
Updated odds less than four hours before post time for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown had Fenwick bet down to 7-1. He started 50-1 on the morning line.
Fenwick may have been a popular underdog choice for bettors after Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby at 80-1. Rich Strike is not in the Preakness after his owner decided more rest was needed to prep for the Belmont Stakes on June 11.
There's also an emotional story behind Fenwick, who was named after owner Jeremia Rudan's mother who died when he was 19. Fenwick is running for trainer Kevin McKathan, who lost his brother to a heart attack three years ago.
Fenwick started the week as the longest shot on the board largely because of his 11th-place finish in his most recent race April 9. He was also purchased for the modest sum of $52,000 as a yearling and went unsold as a 2-year-old.
Epicenter, who was second to Rich Strike in the Derby, remains the favorite at 9-5. Filly Secret Oath is next at 9-2, followed by Early Voting and Fenwick at 7-1, Simplification and Happy Jack at 8-1, Creative Minister and Skippylongstocking at 9-1 and Armagnac at 18-1.
Standing outside the stakes barn at Pimlico Race Course earlier in the week, trainer Kenny McPeek brushed off concern about the heat and how it might affect Creative Minister in the Preakness.
“He goes out there and never flinches,” McPeek said. “I don’t think the heat will bother him at all, and I don’t worry about what I can’t control but I hope the weatherman’s wrong.”
The weatherman was not wrong.
The 147th Preakness could be run in some of the hottest weather in the history of the Triple Crown race.
The temperature at Pimlico Race Course soared above 90 degrees Fahrenheit just after 1 p.m.. The forecast calls for it to be 90 degrees when the horses enter the starting gate just after 7. Post time is scheduled for 7:01.
The record high on Preakness day is 96 set in 1934. Steve Asmussen, the trainer of favorite Epicenter, said he was as concerned as he possibly could be about the heat.
“We know it can be pretty sticky when it gets warm in Baltimore, so I think that all of them are going to have to deal with that,” Asmussen said. “He’s a big horse turning back in 14 days, so just make sure he’s drinking plenty of water and hydrated, just like your kids.”
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