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Early Voting’s owner received the ultimate 65th birthday gift on Saturday as his three-year-old colt took the 147th running of the Preakness in Baltimore. Seth Klarman, a billionaire hedge fund manager, grew up just blocks from the Pimlico race track. This is his second Preakness win. He and trainer Chad Brown teamed up to win the race in 2017 with Cloud Computing using much the same strategy. They skipped the Kentucky Derby and brought a fresh, lightly raced but talented horse to Baltimore. It works. 

Early Voting sat just off the front-running Armagnac through modest fractions for six furlongs and then pounced on the tiring leader.  The son of red-hot sire Gun Runner looked as if he, too, was tiring at the end, but held on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over the heavily favored Epicenter in 1:54.54. Early Voting received an impressive 105 Beyer for the effort. 
Favorite Epicenter was boxed in behind a wall of horses, resulting in a much more troubled trip in this nine horse field than he had in the twenty-horse Kentucky Derby field. Neither trainer Steve Asmussen nor jockey Joel Rosario was pleased with the way the race unfolded. Despite being the most talented horse in either group, Epicenter now has two seconds in the opening jewels of the Triple Crown. Both he and Early Voting are slated to skip  the Belmont, so no match-up with Rich Strike in New York. 
Besides the troubled trip for the favorite which likely cost him the race, the other tragedies in Baltimore on Saturday included the presence of Fenwick in the field and Simplification’s bleed.  Fenwick had absolutely nothing on his resume to suggest that he would be competitive in this grueling, high-level race. And, he was not. It was painful to watch him struggle around the track to his last place finish. At least Rich Strike had been competitive in his stakes races. This poor horse was coming off a last place finish in the Bluegrass Stakes where it was obvious he did not belong.  Shame on his connections.
Simplification faded to a disappointing sixth place finish and bled during the race. A horse cannot breathe nor run in that condition. His owners and trainer indicated that he would be given some well-deserved time off. 
So, in addition to Rich Strike, who WILL we see in the Belmont in three weeks? Third-place Kentucky Derby finisher Zandon is a probable for Chad Brown. He should be tough. Barber Road, White Abarrio, We the People, and third-place Preakness finisher Creative Minister have also been mentioned. 
With no Triple Crown on the line, the last two jewels have a little less sparkle. However, I do believe the decisions of both Rich Strike’s connections to bypass the Preakness and Early Voting’s group to bypass the Kentucky Derby and Belmont were correct. 
Do I believe Rich Strike will win the Belmont? Probably not. He will never get the suicidal fractions that set the Kentucky Derby up ideally for his closing style. Can he be competitive? Absolutely. That horse want to run all day!
Good luck! 

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