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California Chrome, Arrogate, Songbird up for Eclipse Awards

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — California Chrome and Arrogate will meet once more on the track. Before that, an off-track race will be settled.

California Chrome and Arrogate were among the finalists announced Thursday for Horse of the Year, the top prize that will be awarded at the Eclipse Awards.

Those trophies will be presented on Jan. 21 – one week before California Chrome races for the final time, facing Arrogate again in the inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.

California Chrome won seven of his eight starts last year. The lone loss was to Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“He’s obviously going to be missed,” Alan Sherman, the son of California Chrome trainer Art Sherman, said this week. “You can’t replace a horse like him. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse. We’re proud of everything he’s done, but all good things come to an end, I guess. We’re just going to enjoy it and have fun. I think he’s going to put on a really good show at Gulfstream.”

That show is scheduled to start Friday, when California Chrome is expected to ship in from California. His first workout at Gulfstream is scheduled for this weekend.

Songbird is the other finalist for Horse of the Year.

California Chrome is trying to become the eighth to win multiple Horse of the Year trophies since the Eclipse Awards were instituted in 1971. He also won as a 3-year-old in 2014, and is up for the Eclipse in the older dirt male division this year.

Arrogate never even ran against stakes company before he smashed the field – and a track record – on his way to winning the Travers at Saratoga in August. He followed that up with the half-length win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and that also could be enough to get him 3-year-old male honors even after not running in any of the Triple Crown races.

Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Preakness winner Exaggerator are the other finalists in the 3-year-old male race.

Songbird likely won’t leave the Eclipse Awards empty-handed – she’s also up for 3-year-old filly honors and would seem to be the overwhelming favorite there.

Javier Castellano is aiming for his fourth straight Eclipse as best jockey, with Jose Ortiz and Mike Smith the other finalists. Smith is a two-time winner, the last of those trophies coming in 1994.

Bob Baffert is one of three finalists for the trainer Eclipse, last year’s winner joined there by Chad Brown and Mark Casse. If Baffert wins, he would be the third five-time winner of the Eclipse in that division, joining only Bobby Frankel and seven-time winner Todd Pletcher.

The list of finalists, as announced Thursday at Gulfstream Park:

Female sprinter: Finest City, Haveyougoneaway, Paulassilverlining

Female turf horse: Lady Eli, Miss Temple City, Tepin

Horse of the year: Arrogate, California Chrome, Songbird

Male sprinter: A.P. Indian, Drefong, Lord Nelson

Male turf horse: Flintshire, Highland Reel, Tourist

Older dirt female: Beholder, Cavorting, Stellar Wind

Older dirt male: California Chrome, Frosted, Lord Nelson

Outstanding jockey: Javier Castellano, Jose Ortiz, Mike Smith

Outstanding apprentice jockey: Kevin Gomez, Lane Luzzi, Luis Ocasio

Outstanding breeder: Clearsky Farms, Darley, WinStar Farm LLC

Outstanding owner: Juddmonte Farms Ltd., Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Spendthrift Farm LLC

Outstanding trainer: Bob Baffert, Chad Brown, Mark Casse

Steeplechase horse: Rawnaq, Scorpiancer, Top Striker

3-year-old filly: Cathryn Sophia, Queen’s Trust, Songbird

3-year-old male: Arrogate, Exaggerator, Nyquist

2-year-old filly: Champagne Room, Lady Aurelia, New Money Honey

2-year-old male: Classic Empire, Not This Time, Practical Joke

With no Triple Crown in play, Belmont lacks a singular buzz

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BALTIMORE — Cloud Computing stole the Preakness, and any hope of a Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.

The 13-1 shot did it on six weeks’ rest, having skipped the 20-horse roughhouse that is the Kentucky Derby even though he had enough points to get in that race. With another three weeks until the Belmont in New York, Cloud Computing could return to run on his home track.

“We haven’t ruled it out,” trainer Chad Brown said Sunday. “We’re just going to evaluate the horse this week and probably by next weekend we may have a decision.”

Cloud Computing didn’t race as a 2-year-old because of injury, so he is among the freshest horses out there.

Brown prefers to give his horses a month or more between starts. Trainer Todd Pletcher also favors long layoffs, although he made an exception to run Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming back in two weeks. The colt responded with an eighth-place finish – the worst of his career – on Saturday.

“He looks good, bright, alert, sound, healthy, happy,” Pletcher said. “We’ll head to Belmont and regroup.”

If the Derby and Preakness winners skip the Belmont on June 10, the likely favorite would be Classic Empire, who was runner-up Saturday after finishing fourth in the Derby.

It would be the first time since 2010 that neither the Derby nor Preakness winner run in the Belmont. That year, Derby winner Super Saver, trained by Pletcher, and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky sat out the third leg.

Trainer Mark Casse said Classic Empire is being pointed toward the Belmont, barring any unforeseen developments.

“He was a better horse yesterday than he was two weeks ago for the Kentucky Derby,” he said.

Among other horses likely for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont – the longest of the Triple Crown races – are: Senior Investment (third in Preakness), Lookin At Lee (fourth in Preakness) and Japanese invader Epicharis.

Lookin At Lee finished second in the Derby, when Classic Empire was fourth.

Classic Empire and Lookin At Lee would face off for the sixth time in the Belmont, and they could be the only horses to run in all three Triple Crown races. Classic Empire has three victories against Lookin At Lee, including this year’s Arkansas Derby.

“You’re looking at horses that traveled at 2, ran at as high a level as we have, so you’re not surprised,” said Steve Asmussen, who trains Lookin At Lee and won last year’s Belmont with Creator.

“They’ve been able to maintain themselves physically. That puts them in a different position than horses who have not consistently run on that stage.”

Possible Belmont starters are Multiplier (sixth in Preakness) and Conquest Mo Money (seventh in Preakness). Gunnevera (fifth in Preakness) and Hence (ninth in Preakness) won’t run in the Belmont.

Epicharis, one of the top 3-year-olds in Japan, will make his North American debut in the $1.5 million Belmont. That would make him eligible for a new $1 million bonus offered by the New York Racing Association to any Japan-based winner of the race. The winner’s share of the purse is $800,000.

Epicharis would be the second Japanese horse to run in the Belmont. Last year, Lani finished third after running in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

Cloud Computing wins Preakness Stakes, ends Always Dreaming’s Triple Crown bid

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The bid for the Triple Crown is over.

Cloud Computing won the 142nd Preakness Stakes in 1.55.98, successfully ending Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness favorite Always Dreaming’s Triple Crown run and upsetting multiple favorites.

Classic Empire and Always Dreaming bolted out in front early, splitting the lead multiple times in the first ½ mile, but Cloud Computing made a late run for trainer Chad Brown’s first Preakness win and jockey Javier Castellano’s second Preakness win.

Classic Empire finished second, Senior Investment finished third, and Always Dreaming finished outside the top 5.

Cloud Computing did not run in the Kentucky Derby, but came into the race with 14-1 odds.

Brown is not the only one who has a special connection to this win. Seth Klarman, one of Cloud Computing’s owners, is a Baltimore-native that grew up watching horse racing at Pimlico. The trainer also revealed that the strategy was to wait behind Always Dreaming and make a late move for the lead.

Always Dreaming ran away from the competition in four consecutive victories this year, winning by a combined 23 ¼ lengths, but could not outmatch Cloud Computing down the stretch. Two years ago, American Pharoah became the first horse to sweep the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 37 years, earning a Triple Crown win.

Contributing: Associated Press