Is it possible that neither Preakness champion Cloud Computing nor Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming skip the final jewel of the Triple Crown?
Cloud Computing will travel to New York, and trainer Chad Brown is going to evaluate his charge as the week moves along. He told Jeremy Balan of BloodHorse.com that competing in the Belmont Stakes on June 10 is a possibility, but nothing more than that at this point.
"We haven't ruled it out," Brown said. "We're just going to evaluate the horse this week and probably by next weekend we may have a decision."
However, it seems more likely that Brown may choose to let Cloud Computing rest. He did not run in the Kentucky Derby, and when he lined up to run in the Preakness Saturday, he was coming off six weeks of rest and preparation.
It's just three weeks between the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, and that's why he could decide to pass on the 1½-mile Test of Champions.
Cloud Computing came through with a memorable stretch run to edge second-place finisher Classic Empire.
Always Dreaming is another horse that is used to running with more rest. He was strong and fit for the Kentucky Derby and won that race decisively, but with just two weeks between the Run for the Roses and the Preakness, the colt faded badly.
After leading for much of the race and attempting to hold off Classic Empire, Always Dreaming had a difficult time down the stretch and finished in eighth place. That's clearly the worst performance of his career.
Trainer Todd Pletcher says he has not made up his mind one way or the other. Despite the loss, Pletcher said Always Dreaming looked fine after the race.
"I thought he cooled out well, he didn't seem to be really distressed," Pletcher said, per Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form.
Trainer Mark Casse did not guarantee that Classic Empire would run in the Belmont, but he provided a strong hint that his horse would not miss the race.
"You know us, we like running," Casse said, per Privman.
He also detailed that Classic Empire came home in good shape and that there were no regrets in the camp about finishing second to Cloud Computing in the Preakness. "I'm a very happy man today. He ran his race, had a fair shot, just got beat," Casse said. "The Preakness was easier on him than the Derby. Right now, he's at the top of his game."
Senior Investment and Lookin At Lee finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Preakness, and both will be running in the Belmont Stakes, according to Privman.
Trainer Kenny McPeek said he had his eye on the Belmont all along for Senior Investment, and because he performed well in the Preakness, he has decided that his charge should run in New York.
"We felt all along he wanted a mile-and-a-half, but the Belmont is tougher than this sometimes because the pace can be much slower," McPeek said, per Balan. "Does it suit him? He's just going to keep coming. We made a decision yesterday before the race, if he finishes fourth or better, he punches his ticket."
A number of other horses who either ran in the Derby or have not raced in either of the Triple Crown races could opt in for the Belmont Stakes as well.
However, Gunnevera will not be one of them. He ran in both the Derby and the Preakness, and he bled in the Baltimore race and finished fifth. Trainer Antonio Sano is sending him back to Florida to freshen, and he should be active again this summer, per Balan.