BALTIMORE – Maybe extra rest for a racehorse is not so bad.

In the Preakness Stakes, which ran without a Derby winner in Kentucky because the Rich Strike owner felt he needed more rest after beating him 80-1, Early Voting reaffirmed a bold decision to skip the Derby and aim for the second leg of the Triple Crown .

An early vote delayed favorite Epicenter to win Preakness on Saturday, rewarding coach Chad Brown and owner Seth Clarman for their patience. Early voting haunted the leaders for most of the race before moving to first place in the last turn and finished 1 1/4 of the length ahead of Epicenter, which was second, as in Derby.

“We thought he needed a little more seasoning, extra rest would help him,” Clarman said. “It was a pretty easy race – only three races to date. And, as it turned out, it was the right call. We wanted to do it right next to the horse, and we are very happy that we waited. “

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The original plan in Preakness was for Early Voting not to wait and for jockey Jose Ortiz to put him in the lead. This looked especially important on the day when the dirt track at the Pimlico racetrack promoted speed and prevented horses from approaching from behind on the site.

But when Armagnac jumped forward, Ortiz agreed with Early Voting, who had a lot more to the side before the finish, and Epicenter threatened inside at the rail.

“I was never worried,” Brown said. “When we had a good goal, I preferred it. We were fine to get ahead, but I thought from the back to defeat us, it would take a good horse. And a good horse really ran up to us near the wire, and it was about the only one who could run with us. “

After just two Triple Crown winners over the past four-plus decades, Rich Strike owner Rick Dawson has been heavily criticized for missing Preakness because he felt the horse needed more rest to prepare for Belmont’s June 11 betting.

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Part of that can be muted after Early Voting’s impressive performance.

“It’s very hard to get the owner to go to the Derby and they made the right choice,” said Ortiz, who won Preakness for the first time. “Horse, I don’t think he was experienced enough to run around a field with 20 horses and they proved they were right today. I’ve been on it since childhood. We always knew he was very talented, but we knew he would be a late developer. “

Clarman and Brown are questioning the possibility of early voting to oppose Rich Strike in Belmont to make it a showdown between Derby and Preakness winners. They said early voting might not be appropriate for Belmont by a mile and a half.

But early voting had no problems with 1 3/16 miles in Preakness, which did not have as fast a pace as the Derby.

“It’s just beautiful when a plan is put together,” Brown said.

An early vote, which went 5-1, gave Brown a second victory in Preakness. Cloud Computing, the 2017 winner, also owns Klarovich Clarman’s stables.

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“Cloud computing was once in my life, and now I have twice in my life,” said Clarman, who grew up three blocks from Pimlik and celebrated his 65th birthday. “It’s really hard to believe it could have happened.”

Early voting won the race at 1: 54.54 and paid $ 13.40, $ 4.60 and $ 3.60. Epicenter paid $ 2.80 and $ 2.40 for the venue and show, while Creative Minister was third and paid $ 4.20 for the show.

Although Epicenter was bypassed by Rich Strike in the Derby and failed to take a similar step in Preakness, it was a familiar feeling for coach Steve Asmussen and jockey Joel Rosario. Disappointed Asmussen said his horse “just needed to be overcome” after a rough start.

“I couldn’t get my position,” Rosario said. “I had nowhere to go. You just have to stay there and hopefully at some point it will open up. It was very difficult all the way. “

Early voting ended first in a field of nine horses, including Secret Oath mare trained by D. Wayne Lucas, and three who returned after attending the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. Secret Oath finished fourth 15 days after winning the Kentucky Oaks.

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“She did a big, sweeping run,” Lucas said. “It wasn’t her day.”

Early Voting, son of Gun Runner, won for the third time in four races of his career to take the winner’s share of $ 900,000 in a $ 1.65 million wallet. Asmussen said: “Early voting is the winner of Preakness and deserves all the respect for it – and nothing but.”

The 147th edition of Preakness passed in near-record heat with temperatures soaring to 90 when the horses left the starting gate.

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