By Alan Carasso
Apparently the Apollo curse doesn’t apply to the GI Preakness S.
While no horse has won the GI Kentucky Derby absent a start as a 2-year-old since Apollo some 135 years ago, Klaravich Stable and William H. Lawrence’s Cloud Computing (Maclean’s Music–Quiet Temper, by A. P. Indy) became just the second horse in modern times to win the second leg of the Triple Crown with as few as three starts–and none at two–after the $200,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase managed to grind his way past reigning Eclipse Award-winning juvenile Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile) in the final strides Saturday at Old Hilltop. Senior Investment (Discreetly Mine) rallied from last in the field of 10 to snag third money.
PREAKNESS S.-GI, $1,500,000, PIM, 5-20, 3yo, 1 3/16m, 1:55.98, ft.
1–#@&CLOUD COMPUTING, 126, c, 3, by Maclean’s Music
1st Dam: Quick Temper (MGSP, $259,722), by A.P. Indy
2nd Dam: Halo America, by Waquoit
3rd Dam: Ameriangel, by Halo
($200,000 Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O-Klaravich Stables Inc. & William
H Lawrence; B-Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings Inc & Stretch Run
Ventures, LLC (KY); T-Chad C Brown; J-Javier Castellano.
$900,000. Lifetime Record: 4-2-1-1, $1,071,000. Werk Nick
Rating: A+++. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. 2–Classic Empire, 126, c, 3, Pioneerof the Nile–Sambuca
Classica, by Cat Thief. ($475,000 Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O-John C
Oxley; B-Steven & Brandi Nicholson (KY); T-Mark E Casse.
$300,000.3–Senior Investment, 126, c, 3, Discreetly Mine–Plaid, by
Deputy Commander. ($95,000 Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O-Fern Circle
Stables; B-Dixiana Farms LLC (KY); T-Kenneth G McPeek.
$165,000.Margins: HD, 4 3/4, HF. Odds: 13.40, 2.20, 31.70.
Also Ran: Lookin At Lee, Gunnevera, Multiplier, Conquest Mo Money, Always Dreaming, Hence, Term of Art.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
It all started innocently enough for Cloud Computing, the most expensive of 38 yearlings to sell from the first crop of his sire (by Distorted Humor–Forest Music, by Unbridled’s Song). Sent off the $1.15-1 favorite for a maiden over the Aqueduct inner track Feb. 11, and overcame a studder-step beginning and some early traffic trouble, swept four wide into the lane and leveled out impressively to graduate by 1 1/4 lengths. Thrown to the wolves in the GIII Gotham S. three weeks later, the dark bay raced in close attendance to fast early fractions and while heavily favored El Areeb (Exchange Rate) faded tamely after setting the pace, Cloud Computing kept on admirably well, finishing second to ‘TDN Rising Star’ J Boys Echo (Mineshaft), who had the race run to suit his closing style. The 12-5 second choice in the GII Wood Memorial S., attracting more pari-mutuel attention than ‘TDN Rising Star’ and prior GSW Irish War Cry (Curlin), Cloud Computing was three wide around the first turn and wide on a track that was kind to speed on the day. He slipstreamed Irish War Cry into the stretch, but couldn’t match strides late and managed a third-place effort. While the chief protagonists in Saturday’s Preakness were back on two weeks’ ‘rest,’ Cloud Computing was a fresher animal, drew perfectly in gate two, and the rest–they say–is history.
Not Exactly From the Clouds…
With Derby fourth Classic Empire drawn outside of GI Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming (Bodemeister), many analysts surmised that Julien Leparoux would give last year’s GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner a positive ride, and so it proved, as Classic Empire hounded Always Dreaming to the outside through an opening couple of furlongs in :23.16 over a track that began the day as muddy and though listed as fast by the Preakness post time, was still in the drying-out process. The early shape of the race was altered some when the supplemented Conquest Mo Money (Uncle Mo) did not break sharply, and instead of being part of the early pace, was ridden along into a midfield position by Jorge Carreno while three or four wide under the line for the first time. Always Dreaming led the field into the backstretch, but Classic Empire remained glued to his outside and the duo had clocked :46.81, with Cloud Computing and Javier Castellano continuing to lick their chops while saving ground from just off the fence. With the half-mile pole in the rear-view, they hit the far turn, and John Velazquez took a quick look to his right to see that Classic Empire was not going away.
More or less on even terms passing the three-eighths, Classic Empire was cut loose by Leparoux with 2 1/2 furlongs to travel, a move that at the time seemed a confident one, if-perhaps-a sixteenth of a mile premature. With Always Dreaming now back-pedaling, Castellano swung Cloud Computing away from the rail and out into about the three path and the stage was set. Roused left-handed at the furlong grounds, Classic Empire dug in and was clearly giving everything he had, but Cloud Computing kept up his relentless rally, dueled heads apart for about 50 yards and stuck his head across the wire first. Senior Investment, shuffled back to last on the turn, came out widest into the lane and rallied stoutly to be third ahead of Derby runner-up Lookin at Lee (Lookin at Lucky), the back marker for the opening half-mile who also closed good ground late.
Another Landmark Win for Brown…
For Chad Brown, it was a first Classic success in five attempts and with his first Preakness runner.
“We always liked this horse as a 2-year-old,” said Brown. “He got injured up at Saratoga. He was one of our first 2-year-olds to run actually. He showed a lot of talent right away. Ironically him and [future Grade I winner and Derby fifth] Practical Joke (Into Mischief) were identified as Seth and Bill’s horses as two of the best in the crop. And Practical did well and this horse got hurt. So we rested him, and Seth and Bill have always been extremely patient with their horses, no rush and whatever is best for them we do. We knew he was good right away.
“How did we know he was this good, Preakness good? I’d say in his second start, in the Gotham, when he was kind of chasing a fast pace and then made another run in the lane, he just never quit. We huddled up and said this horse is really special and he can go that far. How do we get to the Derby? And it just didn’t work out in the Wood. We just ran out of time. Looking back on it, it was a bit of a speed-biased track that day, and he was one of the only horses that closed ground really. After that it really wasn’t a hard decision. We had the points and we got together and we just really zeroed in on this race, and thankfully it worked out.”
Brown, the 2016 Eclipse Award-winning conditioner, also paid tribute to his mentor.
“I’ve always praised Bobby Frankel, who taught me so much,” he explained. “And it just seems like he’s won every race but the Derby and Preakness, really. This is the only race that eluded him in his unbelievable career. I feel this is for him, at least from my viewpoint. And without his mentorship, I certainly wouldn’t be here.”
Jockey Javier Castellano was winning his second Preakness, some 11 years on from Bernardini (A.P. Indy)’s fateful victory in 2006.
“I think I always had a lot of confidence in this horse but I didn’t have the opportunity to ride the horse,” said the Venezuelan and soon-to-be Hall of Famer. “Then Mr. Brown gave me the opportunity to ride the horse in the Preakness. It was a great combination and I am blessed to have the opportunity and enjoy the ride. I spoke to Mr. Brown before the race. 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.”
Brown was non-committal about a start in the GI Belmont S. at his home base in three weeks’ time.
“We really don’t know,” he admitted. “We were just going to take it race by race with this horse. We’re going to see. Do I think he’s a mile-and-a-half horse? He’s never really struck me that way, but I’m not going to rule it out. Let’s see how he comes out of it and who is running and get a feel for it. And I’ll leave it as a possibility right now.”
Seth Klarman and his partner Bill Lawrence have gained a reputation for purchasing racehorses of high quality at middle-market prices. Such was the case with Cloud Computing, for whom the partners gave $200,000 through bloodstock agent Mike Ryan. On the eve of his 60th birthday, the Cornell- and Harvard-educated hedge fund manager and philanthropist, who for a time in his youth lived just a few furlongs from Pimlico, could not help but bask in the afterglow of the biggest victory of his career.
“It was unbelievably exciting,” Klarman admitted. “Grew up three blocks from here. Was a big fan of racing from a kid and came to the Preakness many, many times. Never imagined I’d own a horse, let alone be the winner of the Preakness. Chad had a brilliant plan to bring the horse here and a brilliant plan for how the race was going to be run. And we sat exactly where we wanted to. Javier executed just perfectly on Chad’s plan and here we are right now.
He continued, “I started out as a teenager handicapping, enjoying the races, enjoying the athletic performances and enjoying the puzzle of trying to figure out who might win a race. As an adult, I was offered the opportunity to participate in a small partnership and gradually became an owner about 25 years ago. And this is the culmination of 25 years of hard work and learning and trying to figure this game out.”
To say it’s been a fantastic 12 months for renowned horseman Mike Ryan would be an understatement of monumental proportions. Ryan selected 2016 GI Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist (Uncle Mo) as a yearling before reselling him at a stealthy profit. Two weeks ago, Ryan and his partner, colleague and friend Gerry Dilger were represented as the winning breeders of Derby winner Always Dreaming and Saturday, a horse that caught his attention well before he went through the Keeneland sales ring on day six of the 2015 September yearling sale connected him with yet another Classic winner.
“We feel very fortunate to be involved with a Derby winner and a Preakness winner in the same year,” Ryan said late Saturday evening.
Ryan explained what stood out to him about the Apr. 29 foal that went through the ring about 100 hips from the end of the session.
“He reminded me of a very good horse we bought for Mr. and Mrs. Warren called [‘TDN Rising Star‘] Bakken (Distorted Humor) that we had with Chad. This horse–he had legs, class, moved around like a cheetah. I loved his lines and angles. He walked with lightness over the ground, moved with no effort–moved like a cat. We loved him from the very early stages and he showed talent from the get go. Ian Brennan was really high on this horse from the beginning. I pinch myself–to be involved with these two horses is just remarkable, very special.”
Ryan also paid homage to the team at Hill ‘n’ Dale and those calling the managerial shots.
“Great credit to the breeders, they raise a good horse and to Chad [Brown] for spacing his races,” he commented. “[Chad] knew he was sitting on a talented horse. They made a good decision not going to the Derby. Very happy for Mr. Klarman, there are very few in the game like him, for him to win a Classic–I’m just so thrilled.”
Cloud Computing is a son of Quick Temper, whose Classic-winning sire also served as the broodmare sire of 2010 Derby hero Super Saver (Maria’s Mon–Supercharger) and the sire of the aforementioned Bernardini. Bred by Hill ‘n’ Dale and the late John Franks, the daughter of Franks’s GI Apple Blossom S. winner Halo America was a $290,000 purchase as a weanling out of the 2001 Keeneland November sale and went on to win four of 26 starts and nearly $260,000 with placings in three graded stakes. Quick Temper is a half-sister to European SW & G1SP Marino Marini (Storm Cat), also second in the 2003 GI Malibu S. once repatriated. The dam of a yearling full-brother to Cloud Computing, Quick Temper was bred back to Maclean’s Music in 2016, but did not catch and was purchased by Hill ‘n’ Dale Bloodstock out of last year’s Keeneland November sale.
What They’re Saying…
“I thought he ran outstanding. I always worry about him starting because he stumbles a little bit. He won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile going out after it and I said to Julien, ‘Second doesn’t mean anything.”‘ I said, ‘Let’s go and try to win this thing.’ It ended up getting us in the end. We were going to be in it, and he said, ‘OK.” We were going to be aggressive and that’s what we did. I know his mind tends to wander and I was a little worried about that. I was hoping that horse came to him earlier. He tried to kick back, but we were second best today.”
Mark Casse, trainer, Classic Empire
“It was a great race. I was happy with him. He showed me he could compete against these kind and has continued to improve. He’s a really good horse with a huge future and I think we’re just getting started with him. A mile and a half and the Belmont is going to be really up his alley. The two who finished in front of him are obviously really good horses, but maybe if we would have had a little cleaner trip, we maybe could have finished closer. He’s such a big horse, it was pretty obvious he was going to need time to develop, so it’s not a big surprise that he’s come along. He’s a really, really smart horse.”
Ken McPeek, trainer, Senior Investment
“We were in the position we expected to be and I think the turnaround was a little too quick. He ran so hard in the Derby and today just wasn’t his day. He didn’t seem to relish the track, but I don’t really think that was it. It was just that he put so much into the Derby that it wasn’t meant to be. That’s kind of what we anticipated Classic Empire would do, take it to us, but he just didn’t have that reserve today. Initially, it looks like he came back well.”
Todd Pletcher, trainer, Always Dreaming