Early Voting Emerges as Key Player: Preakness Winner Takes Center Stage Amidst Early Belmont Defections

The Preakness Stakes aftermath: Early Voting and Epicenter to skip Belmont Stakes

Early Voting heads to the summer sophomore preps instead

After a thrilling Preakness Stakes race, trainer Chad Brown confirmed that the winner, Early Voting, will not be participating in the upcoming Belmont Stakes in Queens, New York. Instead, Early Voting will be heading back to New York to run in one of the summer sophomore preps. Brown expressed his satisfaction with the colt’s performance, highlighting his consistent ability to break well from the gate, make his own trips, maintain speed over longer distances, and show determination in the stretch. Fans of Early Voting can look forward to seeing him compete in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga on August 27, following a preparatory race in either the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga or the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park in July.

Zandon, the Kentucky Derby’s third-place finisher, also skips the Belmont

Joining Early Voting in skipping the Belmont Stakes is Zandon, another promising contender trained by Chad Brown. Zandon, who claimed third place in the Kentucky Derby, won’t be making an appearance in Queens either. Similar to Early Voting, Zandon is being aimed at the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga, with either the Jim Dandy or Haskell Stakes serving as his preparatory race. Brown’s decision to bypass the Belmont Stakes reflects his strategy of giving both colts ample time to rest, regroup, and prepare for the upcoming races.

Epicenter’s owner expresses reservations about Belmont Stakes

Ron Winchell, the owner of Epicenter, the runner-up in the Preakness Stakes, has voiced concerns about the timing between the Derby and the Preakness. Noting that the six-week gap between the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby worked well for his colt, Winchell believes that the two-week break between the Derby and the Preakness didn’t allow Epicenter sufficient recovery time. As a result, the Belmont Stakes seems unlikely for Epicenter at this point. Winchell emphasized the importance of keeping his colt fresh and indicated that a lengthier interval between races has been beneficial in the past. While Epicenter looked a bit flat in the Preakness and faced traffic issues early on, Winchell remains optimistic about his colt’s future performances.

Creative Minister heads to the Belmont Stakes

Creative Minister’s journey to the Triple Crown

Contrary to Early Voting, Zandon, and Epicenter, Creative Minister will be competing in the Belmont Stakes. The third-place finisher in the Preakness Stakes has showcased his potential and will be heading to Belmont Park for the final jewel of the Triple Crown. Under the guidance of trainer Kenny McPeek, Creative Minister has demonstrated a strong performance record and has impressed his connections with his pedigree as a son of Tapit, a sire known for producing successful Belmont runners. McPeek believes that the additional distance in the Belmont will suit Creative Minister, as long as he handles the track surface effectively.

Creative Minister’s surprising path to the Triple Crown

Creative Minister’s inclusion in the Triple Crown races was unexpected for many racing enthusiasts. However, McPeek’s astute decision to supplement the colt for the Preakness Stakes with a fee of $150,000 paid off handsomely. Creative Minister’s first three races resulted in two wins and a third-place finish, building his momentum and catching the attention of his owners. McPeek’s confidence in the colt’s ability led to the decision to pursue the classic 3-year-old races. McPeek draws a comparison between Creative Minister and Sarava, the 70/1 longshot winner of the 2002 Belmont Stakes, remarking on how horses under the radar can sometimes surprise everyone with an astonishing victory.


In summary, the aftermath of the Preakness Stakes has brought surprising developments regarding the Belmont Stakes. While Early Voting and Zandon will be redirected to other races, Creative Minister will represent the Preakness finishers in the highly anticipated final leg of the Triple Crown. Trainer Chad Brown’s decision to give his colts more time to rest and prepare for future races shows a strategic approach to their careers. Ron Winchell’s reservations about the Belmont Stakes for Epicenter highlight the importance of considering a horse’s recovery and freshness between races. Now, all eyes turn to Belmont Park as Creative Minister looks to make his mark in the prestigious event.


1. Why is Early Voting skipping the Belmont Stakes?

Early Voting, the winner of the Preakness Stakes, is bypassing the Belmont Stakes to focus on the summer sophomore preps and prepare for the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga later in the season. Trainer Chad Brown believes that giving the colt more recovery time and selecting suitable preparatory races will be beneficial for his long-term success.

2. Will Zandon compete in any major upcoming races?

Similar to Early Voting, Zandon is being aimed at the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Trainer Chad Brown plans to utilize either the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga or the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park as a preparatory race for Zandon.

3. Why did Epicenter not perform as expected in the Preakness Stakes?

Epicenter faced traffic issues early in the race, which affected his positioning and overall performance. Owner Ron Winchell also expressed concerns about the tight scheduling between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, feeling that a longer break between races would have better suited his colt’s recovery and performance.

4. Who is Creative Minister and why is he heading to the Belmont Stakes?

Creative Minister is a talented colt who finished third in the Preakness Stakes. Trained by Kenny McPeek, Creative Minister has shown promise and possesses favorable breeding as a son of Tapit. McPeek believes that the longer distance of the Belmont Stakes, along with Creative Minister’s affinity for the track, presents a great opportunity for the colt to shine.

5. How did Creative Minister qualify for the Belmont Stakes?

Creative Minister’s impressive performance in his first three races caught the attention of his connections. To secure his spot in the Preakness Stakes, his owners paid a supplemental fee of $150,000. His consistency and potential led to the decision to continue his Triple Crown journey by entering the Belmont Stakes, a race known for its demanding distance and historic significance.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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