BALTIMORE (AP) — As Chad Brown stood in the Preakness winner's circle with Cloud Computing, the 38-year-old trainer didn't think about winning the second jewel of the Triple Crown in his first try.
He thought about late mentor Bobby Frankel, who came to Pimlico four times and never hit the board in the Preakness. Frankel died of leukemia in 2009, and was on Brown's mind Saturday.
"It just seems like he's won every race but the Derby and Preakness, really," Brown said. "This is the only race that eluded him in his unbelievable career. I feel this is for him. ... Without his mentorship I certainly wouldn't be here."
It took a furious run by 13-1 long shot Cloud Computing and jockey Javier Castellano down the stretch to pass Classic Empire just before the wire. By a head, the New York-based Brown earned what many trainers wait a lifetime for.
Todd Pletcher, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, is 0 for 9 in the Preakness. Frankel's best finish was fourth back in 2003.
But Brown didn't even seem to even contemplate that this was his first Preakness — just another accomplishment for the 2016 Eclipse Award winner as most outstanding trainer who's a rising star in his field.
"I feel like it's been a lifetime for me because you've got to put a lot of time in," Brown said. "I've been training now for 10 years. We've run four horses in the Derby. This is our first Preakness try. But I personally put a lot of time, and my staff's put a lot of time in. When you add the time as an assistant trainer, for two great trainers, it feels like I've been doing it forever, really."
Brown already had won eight Breeders' Cup races, but Cloud Computing was just his sixth starter in any of the Triple Crown races: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont. After the race, co-owner William Lawrence played off a dated jab about Brown not being able to win big races on dirt.
"I whispered to Chad in the winner's circle, 'Best dirt trainer in the country,' which is a little joke," Lawrence said. "People think he can only (be a) turf trainer."
Brown is much more than that, especially after skipping the Derby with Cloud Computing and aiming for the Preakness. Co-owner Seth Klarman, who grew up three blocks from Pimlico and used to attend the race as a fan, called it a "brilliant plan" orchestrated by Brown to bring a horse that didn't run until February to this race with a chance to win it.
It worked, and now Brown has the chance to go for a second Triple Crown race on home dirt at Belmont in three weeks. He was noncommittal about running Cloud Computing in the Belmont as he savored the biggest victory of his young career.
"I know I'm young, but you have to have an incredible team of people that share a common goal," Brown said. "It all came together. I feel like it was a lot of work and well deserved by everybody."
Follow Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno