by Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
May 18, 2019
BALTIMORE – Gary Barber’s War of Will, who finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) following a most eventful journey two weeks ago, rebounded with a victory in Saturday’s 144th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, courtesy of a well-judged, trouble-free trip under jockey Tyler Gaffalione.
War of Will’s victory in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown was a thrilling highlight of the Preakness Day 2019 celebration fueled by World Class Thoroughbred racing and entertainment and enjoyed by a crowd of 131,256. A 14-race program that offered nine stakes with purse money exceeding $2.8 million was complemented by Preakness InfieldFest 2019, headlined by three-time Grammy nominated rapper Logic and DJs Diplo and Kygo.
In the Kentucky Derby, first-place finisher Maximum Security drifted into the path of War of Will on the turn into the homestretch causing Gaffalione to check his horse to avoid a collision. The Mark Casse-trained War of Will went on to finish eighth, but was placed seventh due to the disqualification of Maximum Security that awarded the victory to Country House.
“It was so important to win it. I just wanted him to get his chance to show everyone how good he is, because he is a super horse. We thought we were going to win it two years ago [with Classic Empire] and we got beat at the wire so I kept trying to figure out where the wire was [today],” Casse said. “It was exciting, just unbelievable.”
War of Will saved ground under Gaffalione in fourth place behind pacesetting Warrior’s Charge, who set fractions of 22.50 and 46.16 seconds for the first half-mile of the 1 3/16-mile Spring Classic under Javier Castellano. Warrior’s Charge showed the way around the backstretch and far turn, repelling pressure from Anothertwistafate and Alwaysmining to take the lead into the stretch. However, War of Will loomed boldly when asked by Gaffalione and surged past the tiring pacesetter in mid-stretch on his way to a 1 ¼-length score as the 6-1 third betting choice. Everfast, a 29-1 longshot ridden by Joel Rosario, closed from far back along the inside to finish second, a nose in front of third-place finisher Owendale, who rallied wide through the stretch under Florent Geroux.
War of Will ran the 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.34 to award his owner, trainer and jockey with their first victories in a Triple Crown event.
Improbable, the 5-1 favorite, raced evenly to finish sixth under Mike Smith, foiling Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s quest to win his eighth Preakness Stakes. Bodexpress, a 20-1 longshot, reared at the start and unseated Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.