Early Voting overcomes scorching 90F heat to win the Preakness
Early voting overcame the sweltering heat to win the 147th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on Saturday, in a rare Triple Crown race held without Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike.
With 2017 Belmont winner Jose Ortiz, early voting (odds 5-1) fell behind early leader Armagnac before taking control of matters on the far turn from the outside.
Failing to overtake on a late charge, Kentucky Derby runner-up Epicenter (6-5) once again settled for second place and Creative Minister (10-1) finished third.
‘This is a great race. It’s a dream come true,’ Ortiz said through tears after the race. “We always knew he was very talented.”
Jose L Ortiz aboard Early Voting wins the 147 Preakness Stakes race at Pimlico Racecourse on Saturday
Early voting with jockey Jose Ortiz on board and black-eyed Susans blanket seen in the winners circle at Pimlico
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, right, presents the Woodlawn Vase to Seth Klarman, owner of Early Voting, after his horse won the 147th race of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course
A woman fans out to combat sweltering heat conditions as she awaits the start of a preliminary race on Saturday.
The 1 3/16 mile race was held under harsh conditions, with temperatures hovering around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
The second leg of the famed American Thoroughbred racing triumvirate continued without a chance of a Triple Crown winner this year.
In a rare move, the surprise Derby winner retired, with his owners citing the quick move to Baltimore.
Rich Strike’s owners opted to rest their horse in favor of the Belmont Stakes on June 11 in Elmont, New York. That ensured there would be no Triple Crown winner for the 42nd time in the last 44 years.
The Preakness, held at the venerable but dilapidated Pimlico Racetrack, carries a total purse of $1.65 million, with first place winning 60 percent ($990,000).
Early Voting and the unlikely armagnac showed speed early in Saturday’s race, with 18-1 Armagnac setting the pace down the stretch.
Jockey Jose Ortiz #5 riding Early Voting and the field make the first pass in the first turn during the 147th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse
Early voting crosses the finish line to win the 147th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse on Saturday
Early voting with jockey Jose Ortiz wins the Preakness Stakes before Epicenter (left) at Pimlico Racecourse
Early voting (left) beats out Joel Rosario, second from right, atop Epicenter, and Brian Hernandez Jr., right, atop Creative Minister, to win during the 147th Preakness Stakes
Jose Ortiz, center, above early voting, reacts after winning race 147 of the Preakness Stakes horse race
As they reached the furthest corner, Early Voting made their move on the outside, moving ahead of Armagnac as Secret Oath burst from the back of the field to move into second place.
Charging down the stretch, Early Voting fought off a late challenge from Epicenter on the inside to win by lengths and a half.
Rich Strike, who walked away at odds of 80-1 in the Derby after earning a place in the field just a day before the race when another horse was scratched, was the most unlikely to win the race since 1913.
Early Voting, coached by Chad Brown, was the second choice in the field of nine in line in the morning.
Brown and Early Voting owner Seth Klarman opted to skip the Kentucky Derby and aim their horse directly at the Preakness. Klarman grew up a few blocks from Pimlico.
Early Voting’s most recent race was a second place finish at the Wood Memorial in New York.
Pimlico’s famous weather vane will be painted in the Preakness winner’s silk colors as per tradition.
Women dance during a concert before the 147th race of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Racecourse
Women wear matching outfits before the 147th race of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Racecourse
A spectator reacts after being sprayed in the face with water during The Chainsmokers concert in the Pimlico infield
People pose for a photo before the 147th start of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Racecourse
“We think some aspects were set for us,” Klarman said of early voting before the race. ‘We may or may not be speed, which would probably be an advantage at Pimlico; always has been.
“But whatever happens, I think we have a solid opportunity and we’re very excited to see what happens.”
The runner-up Epicenter is trained by Steve Asmussen, who has won more races than any other North American Thoroughbred trainer. Those wins include the 2007 Preakness with Curlin and the 2009 Preakness with the filly Rachel Alexandra.
Epicenter probably would have been the favorite in the Preakness even if Rich Strike had entered.
Secret Oath, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, was aiming to be the seventh filly to win the Preakness, but her late attack down the stretch failed to close the gap.
The Triple Crown will conclude with the Belmont Stakes on June 11.