After two weeks of nearly non-stop chatter about the controversial conclusion of the Kentucky Derby (G1), War of Will brought racing back to the forefront with an impressive victory in the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) on Saturday at Pimlico.
After taking the worst of it in the Run for the Roses, War of Will received a picture perfect ride from 24-year-old jockey Tyler Gaffalione to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown by 1 ¼ lengths, returning $14.20 as my top pick in the race. He stopped the timer for the 1 3/16 miles over a glib racing surface in 1:54.34 and earned a career best 99 Beyer Speed Figure.
Breaking alertly from the rail, Gaffalione got the colt is perfect position along the rail in the early going over a racing surface that seemed to favor horses on the inner paths. The colt continued to save ground, a path opened up nearing the three-sixteenths and he came through the small opening to take over the lead and hold off his dozen foes.
Everfast, sent off at 29-1 also was down along the inside much of the trip. The colt was near the back of the pack early, raced along the rail heading down the backstretch, angled out to the three path in upper stretch and was taken closer to the rail late, rallying to get the runner up spot.
Trained by Dale Romans, Everfast showed some promise with a runner up finish in the Holy Bull (G2) in February at Gulfstream Park. However, in his next three starts he was beaten a combined 43 ¾ lengths. His final prep was a fifth in the Pat Daly Mile (G3) in the Kentucky Derby Day undercard where he was beaten 10 ¼ lengths.
2019 Preakness Stakes Replay
The $2 exacta returned $947.00 and the $1 trifecta with Owendale paid $4,699.80.
On a perfect afternoon, Pimlico set an all-time total handle record Saturday of $99,852,653. The record handle topped the previous mark of $97,168,658 set in 2017. Attendance was 131,256.
War of Will came out of his Preakness in good fashion and his trainer Mark Casse said it is on to the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 8.
“He’s great this morning,” the trainer told Bloodhorse on Sunday morning at Pimlico. “I would say there’s an extremely good shot we’ll be there (in the Belmont). Now it’s just a matter of him saying he doesn’t want to go, that would be just if he was lethargic or something (during) training.
“There’s only three Triple Crown races. They’re pretty important, and I think if you can do it, you should do it. … The Belmont is the Belmont. It’s the third leg of the Triple Crown. Who doesn’t want to win it?”
While Kentucky Derby winner Country House and Maximum Security will not be in New York, there figures to be a competitive field. Everfast and Owendale seem likely for the third jewel of the Triple Crown. Tacitus, who was placed third in the Kentucky Derby is also being posited toward the race. Others we could see include Game Winner, Master Fencer, Global Campaign, Tax and Intrepid Heart.
Preakness Stakes Results
1. War of Will, Gaffalione, 14.20, 7.40, 5.40
10. Everfast, Rosario, 32.00, 14.40
5. Owendale, Geroux, 6.00
$1 Daily Double (12-1) paid $19.30. $2 Daily Double BES-PREAK (8-1) paid $47.40. $1 Exacta (1-10) paid $473.50. $1 Superfecta (1-10-5-3) $51,924.00. $1 Super High Five (1-10-5-3-11) paid $0.00. $1 Trifecta (1-10-5) paid $4,699.80. $0.50 Pick 3 (1-1/6/12-1) (3 correct) paid $256.20. $0.50 Pick 4 (4/6-1-1/6/12-1) (4 correct) paid $1,040.90. $0.50 Pick 5 (9-4/6-1-1/6/12-1) (5 correct) paid $7,353.40. $0.20 Pick 6 Jackpot (1/8-9-4/6-1-1/6/12-1) (6 correct) paid $8,622.94.