Trainer Chad Brown confirmed that Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Cloud Computing will start in the $1.25 million Travers Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G1) Aug. 26 at Saratoga Race Course.
Making his first grade 1 start in the second leg of the Triple Crown at odds of 13-1, Cloud Computing upset Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner Always Dreaming and outdueled Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Classic Empire to take the Preakness with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano aboard.
In his last race, Cloud Computing finished fifth in the July 29 Jim Dandy Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G2), the traditional local prep for the Travers. Cloud Computing made first run on pacesetter Always Dreaming before tiring as runaway winner Good Samaritan swept the field.
The son of Maclean's Music has breezed twice on Saratoga's main track since the race, most recently working five furlongs in 1:01.65 Aug. 19 with Castellano aboard. Brown said he exited the work in good order leaving the trainer confident to enter him in the Travers.
"He couldn't have worked any better," Brown said. "I was very happy with the work and Javier was pleased, and he came out of his work well."
Brown said Castellano will ride Cloud Computing in the Travers, a race Castellano won for a record fifth time when Keen Ice upset Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in 2015. Castellano also won with Bernardini (2006), Afleet Express (2010), Stay Thirsty (2011), and V.E. Day (2014).
With Always Dreaming and Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate Tapwrit, the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G1) winner who is also expected to run, it marks the first time that the three individual winners of three Triple Crown races will meet in the Travers since 1982, when Runaway Groom upset classic winners Gato del Sol, Aloma's Ruler, and Conquistador Cielo.
Pletcher confirmed Always Dreaming and Tapwrit will run in the Travers, while Curlin Stakes winner Outplay's status will be determined Aug. 22. Pletcher added that Outplay's potential jockey assignment is also a factor in the decision.
"We're definitely planning to run Always Dreaming and Tapwrit and we'll make a decision tomorrow on Outplay," Pletcher said Monday morning.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has been the regular rider of Always Dreaming throughout the colt's 3-year-old campaign and has ridden Outplay in his last two races. Jose Ortiz has been aboard Tapwrit in all five of the colt's starts this year.
Pletcher saddled Flower Alley in 2005 and Stay Thirsty in 2011 to win the Travers. Should he have three entrants in the 148th running, for three separate ownership groups, Pletcher said the possible logistical issues of serving different interests should not be a problem.
"It's really not that challenging. We're training all three horses whether they are running in the race or not," Pletcher said. "The owners are very understanding in these situations. Most of the owners I have also have horses with other trainers, so we've been in situations where I might be running a horse against one of theirs, so it's really not an issue for us. Sometimes it gets a little dicier when you try to maneuver maidens into different races than it is in the big events."
Pletcher said having multiple horses in a prestigious race can sometimes lessen the pressure.
"Sometimes when you only have one, you're hoping you get there, but sometimes it's a little safety net to have more than one," Pletcher said. "But we don't really look at it on those terms. We're just happy that we are fortunate to have three horses who are good enough to be considered for the race."
All three put in their final breezes before Travers Day on the Oklahoma training track Aug. 18, with Always Dreaming working four furlongs in :49.60 in company with Outplay, and Tapwrit completing a half-mile in :50.24.
"My main concern was getting those final works in and with the weather being a little dicey, we wanted to get them in on a good surface and we were able to do that on Friday," Pletcher said. "They (came out) of it well and once we got to that point, you just hope everything continues to go smoothly with the gate schooling and paddock schooling and routine gallops."
Meanwhile, L and N Racing's Lookin At Lee had his final breeze for Saturday's Travers at approximately 6 a.m. Monday, negotiating a steady half-mile in :50.99 over the Oklahoma training track with exercise rider Angel Garcia aboard.
The Steve Asmussen-trained Kentucky Derby runner-up exits a third-place finish in the Aug. 5 West Virginia Derby (G3) at Mountaineer.
"The work went well," Asmussen said. "I didn't get a time and it was pretty foggy, but he traveled well and Angel thought he went well. He came out of it good and we are very pleased with him."
It was a big morning for the Asmussen stable, with stable star and three-time grade 1 winner Gun Runner working just prior to Lookin At Lee. He posted a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.40, the fastest of 11 at the distance that day. Regular pilot Florent Geroux was in the saddle and will have the return call in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes (G1) Sept. 2.
"Gun Runner worked super," Asmussen said. "It was more of the same with him. He's on schedule for the Woodward."
The Asmussen barn has gone 4-2-0 from nine starts in the last week of racing.