Klaravich Stables' Early Voting (Gun Runner) is possible to make his next start in the May 21 GI Preakness S. at Pimlico, although trainer Chad Brown may opt to enter the GIII Withers S. winner Monday in the GI Kentucky Derby if there is a strategic defection. The four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer will be represented by Keeneland's GI Blue Grass S. winner Zandon (Upstart) at Churchill Downs for the Derby.
“Right now the horse is still in New York preparing for the Preakness,” Brown said of Early Voting. “If the complexion of the Derby field changes a certain way before the race, it's not out of the question that I go ahead and ship him over to Churchill and enter him in the Derby. But right now we're planning on running in the Preakness.”
He continued, “We have the points [to get in the Derby]. The horse is doing well. We have the flexibility to keep it as an option. No one is forcing us to make a decision earlier than we want. I don't want to make a 'final' decision and then change your mind. That's worse than delaying. Things happen. Horses drop out, the pace scenario could change, things like that. Seth [Klarman] and I want to handle it intelligently. We want the flexibility. But if everything stays the way it is right now with the field, I plan on running the horse in the Preakness.”
Early Voting has raced only three times: winning a one-mile maiden race at Aqueduct Dec. 18, followed by a 4 1/2-length victory over Un Ojo (Laoban) in the Withers Feb. 5 before finishing second to Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo) in the GII Wood Memorial Apr.9. Un Ojo subsequently won the GII Rebel S. at odds of 75-1 at Oaklawn Feb. 26.
“With only three starts under his belt, putting him in a 20-horse field not even knowing what post you're going to draw and bringing him all the way over here [to Churchill], I didn't feel was a good gamble for the future of the horse. Seth feels the same way. However, if the field changes in such a way where it looks like he's moving up to be one of the main contenders and maybe one of the only pace horses in the race, then I would change my mind.”
Early Voting's path to the Preakness is similar to that of former Brown charge, Cloud Computing, who captured the Classic in 2017. Also owned by Klaravich, Cloud Computing also ran three times, winning his debut at Aqueduct in February, finishing second in the GIII Gotham S. before coming home third in the Wood. He also skipped the Derby before winning the Preakness.
“We've won the Preakness before, obviously,” Brown said. “With Seth being a Baltimore native, it's a very important race to him and he'd be honored to win it a second time, he tells me. So it's not a disappointing goal to shoot for. We hold the race in high regard, and we want to do the right thing for the horse for the future, too, beyond the Derby and the Preakness.”
He added, “This horse has a big career ahead of him. Right now he's a beautiful, sound, improving horse. We want to continue to develop him.”