BALTIMORE — Cloud Computing caught Classic Empire in the final strides Saturday to win the Preakness by a head.
The 13-1 choice was one of five fresh horses in the race that didn’t run two weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby.
Derby winner Always Dreaming and Classic Empire dueled for most of the race before Classic Empire stuck his nose in front midway on the far turn. It looked as if Classic Empire would go on to win, but Cloud Computing ran him down on the outside.
Always Dreaming faded to eighth in the 10-horse field on a cool and cloudy day at Pimlico. A record crowd of 140,327 was on hand.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, Cloud Computing ran 1 3/16 miles in 1 minute 55.98 seconds and paid $28.80, $8.60, and $6. It was just the dark brown colt’s fourth career start, the fewest of any horse in the race, and only his second win.
Classic Empire returned $4.40 and $4, and 31-1 shot Senior Investment was another 4¾ lengths back in third and paid $10.20.
The victory was especially sweet for co-owner Seth Klarman, a Chestnut Hill, Mass., resident who grew up a few blocks from Pimlico. He turns 60 Sunday. He and William Lawrence have been buying and racing horses together since 2006.
Klarman, who races as Klaravich Stables, is a minority owner of the Boston Red Sox.
New York-based trainer Chad Brown earned his first victory in a Triple Crown race. Castellano won for the second time. He rode Bernardini to victory in the 2006 Preakness.
Castellano comes from a racing family, with a father, uncle, and brother who have been jockeys.
‘‘We've been working for a long time for this moment,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s great for the family.’’
The 142nd Preakness had been billed as a match race between Always Dreaming and Classic Empire, and it was from the start.
They broke out of the starting gate next to each other and the fight was on. Always Dreaming took a slight lead with Classic Empire on his flank.
Meanwhile, Cloud Computing was back in third as Castellano watched the duel unfold in front of him.
Always Dreaming was the first to throw in the towel, surrendering the lead to Classic Empire midway around the final turn.
‘‘We didn’t have an excuse,’’ said Todd Pletcher, who trains Always Dreaming. ‘‘We were in a position we expected to be, and I think the turnaround was a little too quick. He ran so hard in the Derby and today just wasn’t his day.’’
Always Dreaming lost for the first time in five races this year. He'd won his first four by a combined 23¼ lengths.
Classic Empire and Julien Leparoux went into the stretch with 3-length lead, seemingly on his way to the winner’s circle.
At that point, trainer Mark Casse thought he was headed there, too.
‘‘Of course,’’ he said. ‘‘But I thought I was going to win a lot of times before, so it doesn’t shock me.’’
But Classic Empire also paid a price for putting away Always Dreaming. Classic Empire fought on to the finish line, but couldn’t hold off a fresh horse in Cloud Computing.
‘‘Certainly I'm not going to dispute the fact that I brought in a fresh horse as part of our strategy,’’ said Brown, whose horse came into the Preakness after a six-week break. ‘‘Our horse is very talented, too. Classic Empire and Always Dreaming are two outstanding horses, and our strategy was, if we are ever going to beat them let’s take them on two weeks’ rest when we have six [weeks], and it worked.’’
After Cloud Computing ran third in the Wood Memorial, Brown and the owners decided the colt would benefit from skipping the traffic-choked conditions in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby.
Lookin At Lee, the Derby runner-up, was fourth. Gunnevera was fifth, followed by Multiplier and Conquest Mo Money. Hence was ninth and Term of Art last.