Horse racing fans were holding their breath shortly before the start of the Preakness, hoping that Always Dreaming would find a way to win the race and set up a possible bid for the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes.
That race will be held at New York's Belmont Park June 10, but none of the competitors will have Triple Crown aspirations.
That's because Always Dreaming faded down the stretch and Cloud Computing put on a stellar late run to take the Preakness. It looked like the race belonged to Classic Empire as he was leading in the deep stretch, but Cloud Computing nailed that horse in the final strides.
The Belmont Stakes is known as the Test of Champions, because of it's 1 ½-mile distance. Belmont Park's long stretch run has been known to cause huge problems for runners who spend too much energy in the in the first part of the race, as it allows come-from-behind horses ample time to get up to speed and nail the leaders.
There are no official entries at this point, but it seems likely that Classic Empire will run in the Belmont Stakes. He had a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby that left him well back in the pack by the time he started his run, and he did well to finish fourth in that race.
|Possible Belmont Stakes entries, odds|
|Lookin at Lee||5-1|
He performed well in the Preakness, but he could not hold off Cloud Computing. Winning a Triple Crown race would put trainer Mark Casse's horse in a strong position to contend for Horse of the Year honors, so it seems quite likely he will run.
Even though he ran full out in the Preakness, early reports by Nicole Russo of Daily Racing Form indicate that Classic Empire returned in fine shape after the race.
Always Dreaming also appeared healthy after his eighth-place finish, but there are no guarantees that trainer Todd Pletcher will want to put him through the grinding schedule that would have him run all three Triple Crown races at this point
Cloud Computing seems likely to run in the Belmont Stakes, although trained Chad Brown was tight-lipped about his horse's next assignment. When NBC's Laffit Pincay Jr. asked Brown on the broadcast if Cloud Computing would run in the Belmont, his response was, "We'll see."
As long as Cloud Computing is healthy and shows no ill effects from the race, he seems likely to run even though his trainer was not about to reveal his strategy.
Senior Investment finished third in the Preakness as a 30-1 longshot, and he could turn around and run in the Belmont as well.
Lookin at Lee, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness, could also go in the Belmont, as could Gunnevera, who ran fifth in the Preakness.
Practical Joke did not run in the Preakness, but he finished fifth in the Derby, and he could also enter the fray. Practical Joke is also trained by Brown.
Look for Classic Empire and Cloud Computing to share the role of co-favorites in the Belmont Stakes, with odds likely to be in the 3-1 range.
Lookin at Lee should be in the 5-1 range, Gunnevera looks like an 8-1 shot, while Senior Investment and Practical Joke will likely be 10-1 or more if those horses are entered in the Belmont Stakes.
It appears that Classic Empire may be the right horse for the Belmont Stakes. While he had a massive effort in the Preakness and fell short, he should benefit from the longer race. He is not likely to go out as fast as he did to compete with Always Dreaming, and he should have his strength for the stretch run.
Entries and odds for the Belmont Stakes are unofficial at this point.