BALTIMORE — Much of the attention leading up to the 147th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course focused less on the horses racing on the sizzling Saturday evening than those who weren’t even in attendance.
Rich Strike, the 80-1 longshot winner of the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, was conspicuously absent after the horse’s owner, Rick Dawson, and trainer, Eric Reed, decided to give Rich Strike more time to rest and recover for next month’s Belmont Stakes .
Without Rich Strike, Derby runner-up Epicenter took center stage as the 6-5 pre-race favorite to win the 1 3/16-mile race. But it was Early Voting, who skipped the Kentucky Derby in order to prepare for the Preakness and started the race a second favorite at 5-1 along with filly Secret Oath, who took home the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Epicenter was runner-up.
Early Voting trainer Chad Brown previously won the 2017 Preakness with Cloud Computing, and jockey Jose Ortiz earned his first Preakness title.
Ortiz, the 2017 winner of the Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey, was in tears after winning the race, saying it was a “dream come true” to share the win with his wife and kids at Pimlico. Ortiz won the 2017 Belmont Stakes aboard Tapwrit.
“I’ve been on him since he was a baby,” Ortiz said of Early Voting. “We always knew he was very talented, but we knew he was going to be a late developer.”
Trainer Brown said afterwards that he wasn’t concerned with how the pace was setting up.
“Honestly, I was never worried. Once we had a good target, I actually preferred that,” Brown said.
“We were fine to go to the lead. But I thought on the back side it was going to take a good horse to beat us, and a good horse did run up on us near the wire, and it was about the only one who could run with us.”
OPINION:Rich Strike’s owner is doing the best for his horse by skipping Preakness
Early Voting owner Seth Klarman, who grew up in Baltimore near Pimlico, got to celebrate both his birthday and a Preakness victory, turning 65 on Saturday.
Temperatures on Saturday reached well into the 90s, with the humidity making it feel even hotter during the first full-capacity Preakness since 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.