Early Voting gallops to victory in the 147th running of the Preakness Stakes

Epicenter finished second while Creative Minister finished third in the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans. Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike did not run Saturday.

Jose Ortiz atop Early Voting wins the 147th running of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 21, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BALTIMORE – Early Voting won the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore on Saturday, crossing the finish line first in the famed Triple Crown race.

Epicenter — also the runner-up at the Kentucky Derby — finished second and Creative Minister third at Pimlico Race Course.

Early Voting, trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Jose Ortiz, was eligible for the Kentucky Derby, but his owners opted to keep him off the Churchills Downs ballot to instead target the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans.

Had Early Voting entered the Derby, that could have altered horse racing history by denying upset winner Rich Strike a spot in the race. Rich Strike was an also eligible who only got into the race due to a late scratch.

Much of Saturday’s potential drama was lost when Rich Strike’s team announced last week that the colt wouldn’t run in the Preakness. He’ll instead focus all efforts on the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes.

Only three thoroughbreds that ran in the Derby were scheduled to start in Pimlico Saturday.

Owner Rich Dawson said Rich Strike needed more rest and recovery following the Derby.

“Obviously, with our tremendous effort & win in the Derby it’s very, very tempting to alter our course and run in the Preakness,” he said in a statement May 12. “We are going to stay with our plan ... and pass on running in the Preakness, and point toward the Belmont in approximately five weeks.”

That’s slated for June 11, just outside of New York City, in a race dubbed “The Test of Champions.” The grueling 1 ½-mile run is the longest of the three high-profile races for 3-year-old thoroughbreds.

With Rich Strike’s absence on Saturday, that means the number of horses to have ever won all three races of Triple Crown still remain at 13: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1920), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973)Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018).