Preakness 2022: What Video Replay Shows for Early Voting's Belmont Odds

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIMay 22, 2022

Jose Ortiz, left, atop Early Voting, edges out Joel Rosario, second from right, atop Epicenter, and Brian Hernandez Jr., right, atop Creative Minister, to win during the 147th running of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 21, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Rich Strike won this year's Kentucky Derby, then didn't participate in this year's Preakness Stakes. We'll find out if that was a beneficial decision when the colt returns to competition at the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

We already know that it was the right decision for Early Voting not to run the Kentucky Derby. That's because the colt had an impressive showing at the Preakness on Saturday, holding off morning-line favorite Epicenter to win the race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

What would happen if Rich Strike and Early Voting raced against each other at the Belmont? Well, we may not get an opportunity to find out.

After Early Voting's Preakness win, owner Seth Klarman and trainer Chad Brown indicated that the horse may be unlikely to compete in the Belmont, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown schedule. According to Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press, Klarman and Brown "said Early Voting might not be suited for the mile-and-a-half Belmont."

At the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, Early Voting was impressive. He was near the front from the start, eventually overtaking Armagnac in the final turn. Once Early Voting was out front, he finished strong, holding off a late charge from Epicenter, who came up short by 1¼ lengths and finished second, just like he did at the Kentucky Derby.

NBC Sports @NBCSports

Here is a look at Early Voting's @PreaknessStakes victory from start to finish! #Preakness147 https://t.co/JAh9ih8VQW

Even though Armagnac was in the lead for much of the race, Brown said he was "never worried" that Early Voting may not be able to get in front of his early competitor.

"Once we had a good target, I actually preferred that," Brown said, per Whyno. "We were fine to go to the lead, but I thought down the back side it was going to take a good horse to beat us. And a good horse [Epicenter] did run up on us near the wire and it was about the only one that could run with us."

At the Kentucky Derby, Epicenter was in the lead heading down the final stretch, and he would have won if it wasn't for an improbable late surge by Rich Strike, the 80-1 long shot. At the Preakness, Epicenter tried to make the late move, but Early Voting prevented him from taking the lead as they got close to the finish line.

If it was a longer race, it's possible Epicenter could have overtaken Early Voting for the lead and the win. And if Rich Strike had been in the field, who knows how that may have impacted the finish, given the strong closing ability he showed at the Kentucky Derby.

Should Early Voting somehow end up in the Belmont field, it's not a guarantee that he'd be the favorite to win, particularly because it's a longer race. Plus, Epicenter continues to have strong showings, and Rich Strike also can't be counted out, especially after sitting out the Preakness in preparation for this upcoming race.

Early Voting would likely be right there among the top contenders if he's entered into the Belmont, though. Just don't expect that to happen based on the early indications that the colt may not be ready to return to action that soon.

So that means Epicenter is likely to be the favorite for the Belmont after another second-place finish, while Rich Strike should also be among the likely front-runners, as he'll have a chance to win two of the three Triple Crown races.