BALTIMORE - Early Voting held off hard-charging favorite Epicenter to win the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, validating the decision to skip the Kentucky Derby and aim for the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Early Voting stalked behind the leaders for much of the race before moving into the lead around the final turn. He finished 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Epicenter, who finished second like he did in the Derby.
Early Voting, who went off at 5-1, gave trainer Chad Brown his second Preakness victory. He’s also owned by Klaravich Stables, which won the race in 2017 with Cloud Computing.
Jockey Jose Ortiz won the Preakness for the first time. He had never finished higher than fourth in four previous mounts in the race.
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MAY 21: Jockey Jose Ortiz #5 riding Early Voting celebrates after winning the 147th Running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 21, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Early Voting finished first in a field of nine horses, which included filly Secret Oath and three who came back after running in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. Early Voting, a son of Gun Runner, won for the third time in four career races to take the $900,000 winner’s share of the $1.65 million purse.
"He got the time off," assistant trainer Baldo Hernandez said this week. "He’s in good shape."
He was in good enough shape to handle some adverse weather conditions. The 147th edition of the Preakness took place in near-record heat with the temperature soaring into the 90s by the time the horses entered the starting gate.
A Preakness, again, without Kentucky Derby winner
The Preakness was run without Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike.
The surprise Derby winner at 80-1 is wasn't in the field of nine for Saturday’s race. Rich Strike’s owner felt the two-week turnaround did not give the colt enough rest and plans to enter him in the Belmont.
Rich Strike’s absence clouds the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown and makes this the second Preakness in four years without the Derby winner.
Last year, Medina Spirit ran and finished third at Pimlico after testing positive at Churchill Downs for a substance that was not allowed on race day and was eventually disqualified. In 2020, the races were run out of order because of the pandemic. And in 2019, neither DQ’ed Derby champion Maximum Security nor elevated winner Country House went to the Preakness.
This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.