Edited Press Release — The next start for Klaravich Stables’ Grade 3 winner Early Voting is likely to be the 147th Preakness Stakes May 21 at historic Pimlico Race Course, though trainer Chad Brown is reserving the right to enter the 3-year-old colt Monday in the Kentucky Derby (G1) if there is a strategic defection.
Brown has not shipped the lightly raced colt from New York to Churchill Downs, which he said was telling in itself. The four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer does have Keeneland’s Blue Grass (G1) winner Zandon at Churchill Downs for the Derby.
“Right now the horse is still in New York preparing for the Preakness,” Brown said of Early Voting. “If the complexion of the Derby field changes a certain way before the race, it’s not out of the question that I go ahead and ship him over to Churchill and enter him in the Derby. But right now we’re planning on running in the Preakness.
“We have the points [to get in the Derby]. The horse is doing well. We have the flexibility to keep it as an option. No one is forcing us to make a decision earlier than we want. I don’t want to make a ‘final’ decision and then change your mind. That’s worse than delaying,” he added. “Things happen. Horses drop out, the pace scenario could change, things like that. Seth and I want to handle it intelligently. We want the flexibility. But if everything stays the way it is right now with the field, I plan on running the horse in the Preakness.”
Seth Klarman, who races as Klaravich Stables, paid $200,000 for Early Voting at Keeneland’s September yearling sale. The colt is from the first crop of 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, who is off to an unprecedented start as a stallion standing at Three Chimneys Farm, which also bred Early Voting.
Early Voting has raced only three times: winning a one-mile maiden race at Aqueduct Dec. 18, followed by a 4 1/2-length victory over Un Ojo in Aqueduct’s Withers (G3) Feb. 5 and then finishing second by a head to last fall’s Remsen (G2) winner Mo Donegal in the Wood memorial (G2) April 9 Wood. Un Ojo went on to upset the Rebel (G2) at odds of 75-1 Feb. 26 at Oaklawn.
“With only three starts under his belt, putting him in a 20-horse field not even knowing what post you’re going to draw and bringing him all the way over here [to Churchill], I didn’t feel was a good gamble for the future of the horse,” Brown said. “Seth feels the same way. However, if the field changes in such a way where it looks like he’s moving up to be one of the main contenders and maybe one of the only pace horses in the race, then I would change my mind.”
Early Voting’s path to the Preakness is similar to that of Cloud Computing, who captured the 1 3/16-mile classic in 2017 to give Brown his first Triple Crown win. Cloud Computing, also owned by Klaravich, had similarly raced three times though Early Voting is more accomplished at the same stage. Cloud Computing won his debut at Aqueduct in February, was second in the Gotham (G3) then third in the Wood. He also skipped the Derby before winning the Preakness by a head at 13-1 odds over second-choice Classic Empire, as favored Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming ran eighth.
“We’ve won the Preakness before, obviously,” Brown said. “With Seth being a Baltimore native, it’s a very important race to him and he’d be honored to win it a second time, he tells me. So it’s not a disappointing goal to shoot for. We hold the race in high regard, and we want to do the right thing for the horse for the future, too, beyond the Derby and the Preakness.
“This horse has a big career ahead of him. Right now he’s a beautiful, sound, improving horse,” he added. “We want to continue to develop him.”
Secret Oath Could Come Back in Preakness After Kentucky Oaks (G1)
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said 3-year-old filly Secret Oath was nominated to the Triple Crown with the Preakness (G1) in mind. Secret Oath finished third with a challenging trip in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in her first start against males.
“We had no intention of running in the [Kentucky] Derby; running a mile and a quarter, 20-horse field,” Lukas said. “Whether you could make a case or not that she’s one of the better 3-year-olds in the country — which you can — we had no intention of that.
“We were running in the Arkansas Derby because the race was [worth] $1.25 million. That in itself was the incentive,” he added. “If she had won the Arkansas Derby, we’d have not run in the Kentucky Derby. We were pretty adamant that we were going to run in the [Kentucky] Oaks and have the best filly in the country.”
The Preakness, set for May 21 at historic Pimlico Race Course, is another matter.
“That’s what the nomination was for,” Lukas said. “That’s what we thought: If we have a big Oaks, now we cut back in distance. We go to a 14-horse field versus 20. We go on a different surface, tight turns, where speed would be good. It changes the whole game when you go to the Preakness.”
Lukas has won the Preakness six times, most recently with Calumet Farm’s Oxbow in 2013. The Preakness also gave Lukas his first Triple Crown victory, that coming with Codex in 1980.
“I have good luck at the Preakness,” said Lukas, who also has won the Derby and Belmont Stakes four times apiece. “I always have had.”
Secret Oath, by champion Arrogate, won the Martha Washington and Honeybee (G3) this winter at Oaklawn prior to the April 2 Arkansas Derby, her most recent start. She ranks with 80 points for the May 6 Oaks.