2022 Preakness Stakes: Early Voting Wins at Pimlico Race Course

by Suzanne Halliburton

Early Voting streaked to the 147th running of the 2022 Preakness Stakes Saturday, earning him a blanket of Black-eyed Susans and his name engraved on a $4 million silver trophy.

Seth Klarman, the horse’s owner, and trainer Chad Brown made the decision not to run Early Voting earlier this month at the Kentucky Derby. They didn’t believe he was ready to compete in a 20-horse field.

But the two figured the horse could be perfection at the Preakness.

“We thought he needed a little more seasoning,” Klarman told NBC. “That would help him. … The pace in the Kentucky Derby was kind of suicidal. We wanted to do right by the horse and I think we did.”

Epicenter finished second to Early Voting. He also was runner-up at the Derby. In both races, Epicenter was the favorite. But at least on Saturday, he got beat by a horse folks thought would run well at Pimlico. Rich Strike, an 80-to-1 longshot, won Churchill Downs, stunning the world of horse racing.

Here’s a video of how Early Voting clinched the Preakness Stakes.

The Preakness, one of the biggest sporting events of the spring season, featured a field of nine horses, three of which competed at the Kentucky Derby earlier this month. But horse racing fans already knew before Saturday there would be no Triple Crown winner in 2022. That’s because the owner of Rich Strike pulled the horse out of the Preakness to focus on next month’s Belmont. CBS reported that it’s the first time a healthy winner of the Derby hadn’t competed at the Preakness since 1985.

And now, Early Voting likely won’t compete at the Belmont Stakes next month. It’s the third leg of the triple crown and at 12 furlongs, is the longest of the three races.

A crowd of 100,000 showed up to watch Saturday’s race in person. It’s the first time since 2019 that fans could view the race from the grandstands. Meanwhile, the horses were running in miserably hot conditions at Pimlico. Before the race started, the National Weather Service issued a special statement/heat advisory for the Baltimore area. So the heat index was flirting with triple digits. But the heat didn’t seem to impact the horses.

Jose Ortiz celebrates Early Voting winning the 2022 Preakness Stakes. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Setting the 2022 Preakness Stakes Stage

Epicenter, who was 6-to-5, was the decided favorite for the 2022 Preakness Stakes. He also was the favorite for the Kentucky Derby, but faded just enough to allow Rich Strike to win. Epicenter’s legendary trainer Steve Asmussen now is 0 for 24 at the Derby. But his horses do well at Pimlico, as they’d won the Preakness three times before Saturday. The Preakness features a shorter course, at 1 3/16 miles, compared to the two other Triple Crown races. Plus, there are far fewer horses in the field with only three from the Derby vying for the Preakness. But Epicenter suffered the same fate as he did in the Derby.

Early Voting at 7 to 2, also generated lots of betting interest, with gamblers pondering if he could stick with Epicenter early in the race. A winning bet on Early Voting paid $13.40.

Secret Oath, at 9 to 2, also created some pre-race buzz. D. Wayne Lukas, a long-time fixture in horse racing, owns Secret Oath. She won the Kentucky Oaks. Lukas was hoping 13 would be her lucky number. Only 12 fillies have ever won a prestigious leg of the Triple Crown. Swiss Skydiver, back in 2020, was the last filly to win the Preakness. But Secret Oath wasn’t competitive at the Preakness.

They all raced for the Woodlawn Vase, which is 30 pounds of solid silver. Its current appraised value is $4 million.

Rombauer won last year’s Preakness. He was a long shot who pushed past Medina Spirit, the Derby winner, to win by three-plus lengths for the unexpected victory.