Always Dreaming's bid for a Triple Crown ended Saturday at the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
Cloud Computing played the role of spoiler, crossing the finish line in first place. It's the first graded stakes victory of his career and jockey Javier Castellano's second win at the Preakness Stakes. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Rachel Alexandra in 2009 is the last horse to win the Preakness after skipping the Kentucky Derby.
Below is the finishing order, courtesy of ESPN's Lane Gold:
1. Cloud Computing
2. Classic Empire
3. Senior Investment
4. Lookin at Lee
7. Conquest Mo Money
8. Always Dreaming
10. Term of Art
For much of the race, it looked like Always Dreaming and Classic Empire were going to go head-to-head to determine a winner. Starting in adjacent gates, they ran neck and neck for much of the race. Coming around the final turn, though, Always Dreaming began fading, with Classic Empire building a healthy lead.
Then, Castellano pushed Cloud Computing hard down the final stretch, and they overtook Classic Empire by a nose at the finish line.
NBC Sports shared a replay of the race and a photo of the finish:
Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde questioned whether Classic Empire and jockey Julien Leparoux started celebrating the victory a little too early:
ESPN's Darren Rovell argued the level of excitement around the Belmont Stakes took a big hit with Always Dreaming's defeat. The Kentucky Derby winner placed eighth:
The wait for a 13th Triple Crown winner will extend at least another year, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for horse racing in general.
It was only in 2015 American Pharoah pulled it off. While that recency doesn't lessen what an accomplishment the Triple Crown is, it creates a bit of a hangover effect. Following along with each step of the Triple Crown process remains an enjoyable pursuit, but there's no comparing awaiting the end of a nearly 40-year drought with one lasting two.
With each year after Affirmed won the Belmont Stakes in 1978, anticipation built that a horse could finally break the dry spell. Some fans may have given up on every seeing a Triple Crown winner again.
When American Pharoah triumphed at Belmont, it was a monumental moment because of the weight of history.
That's not to say anything other than a decades-long wait will feel underwhelming. But the worst thing that could happen for horse racing is that the Triple Crown becomes so commonplace it happens every few years.
From a fan perspective, the journey to the Triple Crown is far more fulfilling than the achievement itself.
With Always Dreaming out of the hunt, the focus now shifts to whether Cloud Computing will run at the Belmont Stakes and whether he can make it two wins in a row.
In addition to the stamina issues that inevitably come with running a mile-and-a-half-long race on a short turnaround, the Belmont field may be deeper as horses who skipped the Preakness Stakes make the trip to Elmont, New York.