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Jose Ortiz celebrates aboard Early Voting after the 2022 Preakness
The $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) is the second jewel in the Triple Crown. A field of 9 three-year-olds contested the 147th renewal of this 1 3/16 mile classic around two turns at historic Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. It was unusually warm for mid May, with partly cloudy skies and a race time temperature of 90 degrees for the over 60,000 fans in attendance, the lowest non-pandemic crowd since 1976. The Maryland Jockey Club said in a statement “This year’s reimagined festivities designed to reduce the event footprint for a fresh, post pandemic guest experience welcomed 60,000+ who wagered over $130 million on one of the hottest May days on record. Refreshed hospitality included Finish Line Suites with premium views of the homestretch from the second floor of Turfside Terrace and HomeStretch Suites along the final turn.”
With upset Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Rich Strike's trainer Eric Reed opting to rest him for the Belmont, the Preakness lost some of its luster but attracted some new shooters. As expected Derby runner-up and beaten favorite Epicenter was sent off as the 6-5 favorite, having won the Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2) leading to the Triple Crown. In to challenge him included 5-1 second choice Secret Oath, winner of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and taking on males for the second time after finishing third in the Arkansas Derby (G1), and 11-2 third choice Early Voting, winner of the Withers Stakes (G3) before finishing a close second in the Wood Memorial (G1) but whose trainer Chad Brown opted to skip the Derby for the Preakness.
Early Voting leads down in the stretch.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Early Voting Ortiz 13.40 4.60 3.60 8 Epicenter Rosario 2.80 2.40 2 Creative Minister Hernandez 4.20 Winning Time: 1:54.54 $2 Exacta 5-8 25.80 $1 Trifecta 5-8-2 66.50 $1 Superfecta 5-8-2-4 162.90 $1 Super High Five 5-8-2-4-9 651.90 $2 BES-Preakness Double 9-5 101.00
Left: Early Voting heads to the winner's circle with his flower blanket. Winning trainer Chad Brown 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."
Right: Early Voting in the winner's circle. Winning owner Seth Klarman said, "I've lived my adult life in Boston, but it's an incredible experience to come back to my hometown and have a chance to compete at this level and check out the horse ready, and Jose gave a brilliant ride. It's one of the highlights of a career owning race horses. Really extraordinary feeling. Our plan was to consider going for the lead, and it looked like to me like he broke a tiny bit slower than the horse just inside. I'm not sure. But he looked like he was coasting, and then the seventh horse just went, and Jose followed Chad's instruction, which was take the lead if they'll give it to you, but if somebody really wants it, let them go."
Trainer Chad Brown celebrating with the trophy. Klarman (behind Brown) added, "Jose is an extraordinary judge of pace. I think you saw that today in the fifth race with Technical Analysis. He was able to get to an easy lead, coasted around, and this race that was the plan, and he started looking like that might be what he did, but when the 7 wanted it really badly, he knew it was fast, and he took back. I think that just tells you in two races on a single day the résumé of Jose Ortiz"
Right: Winning jockey Jose Ortiz teaches his son how to celebrate with a trophy. Ortiz said, "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."
Left: Early Voting in the infield saddling area. Brown added, "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, owner], we try to do things that make sense."
Right: Early Voting in the post parade. Ortiz added, "I didn't see (Epicenter), so I figured he was inside, so I say, all right. I just have to worry to whoever was coming inside of me to put pressure on me earlier than I want to. I knew inside nobody is going to go there because I had the horse in front of me, and I had the position. Whoever was coming had to come around me. And when I took a peek back at the 3/8 pole, I couldn't believe it. I was just traveling nicely. I looked. I saw Saez coming. Saez was coming, moving. He was moving. I felt like I was sitting on a lot of horse."
Left: Early Voting walks over before the race. Asked about the Belmont Stakes, Brown added, "I don't know about 1 1/2 miles in three weeks, but we'll take a look at it. I can tell you he's going to go to Belmont [Park], 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."
Right: Early Voting heads back to the barn. Klarman added, "Chad goes to the sales. Chad works with the team that he has assembled at the sales. We have a long list. We narrow it down to a short list. The horse needs to have a decent pedigree, needs to be physically a horse that we think will be able to handle training and be healthy. It has to be in the right price range. We're not going to pay any amount for a horse. When you meet those three criteria, there's a chance we'll buy at the sale."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Epicenter in the Preakness saddling area. Trainer Steve Asmussen said, "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. 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."
Right: Third place finisher Creative Minister returns after the race. Trainer Ken McPeek said, "I lost him on the far turn, but he was on the inside – rail trip. I'm curious why he tipped out on the turn, and I'll ask Brian about that, but I thought he ran a really good race. He showed he deserved that he belonged. Considering his lack of experience, he was fantastic. We just told him it was a two-other-than allowance race. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. added, "Around the second turn, I decided to tip out and try to make a run at him and [Early Voting] just outsprinted us from the quarter-pole home."
The field shortly after the start of the 147th Preakness Stakes. Eventual fourth place finisher Secret Oath (post 4) was bumped at the start by Fenwick (3). Luis Saez aboard Secret Oath said, "She broke the way she was supposed to, but everyone was all over the place. At the half-mile pole, she made her move, but when we came to the top of the stretch, the winner just kept going. It was a tough race." Trainer D. Wayne Lukas added, "The fractions being slow like that, it was hard to run down. She flattened out a little bit in the last eighth, trying to do it. She made a big, sweeping run. It wasn't her day. It looked like she pulled up fine." Florent Geroux aboard 9th place finisher Fenwick said, "There weren't any holes. Hopefully we can get a little better trip next time."
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