After a chance at victory in the Kentucky Derby was denied to War of Will on the first Saturday in May, there was no denying him in the Preakness as jockey Tyler Gaffalione drove his horse up the rail and won the 144th edition of the Preakness.
War of Will started from the No. 1 hole, often considered to be a significant handicap in a race with a fairly large field of 13, but it was perfect for the winner. Gaffalione bided his time in the first half of the race, and he was content to save ground and then make his move in the stretch run of the 1 3/16-mile race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
Gaffalione and his mount found a clear path on the inside and passed tiring runners with little problem. He made it to the lead with one eighth of a mile to go as he passed Warrior's Charge, and then held off other late runners. Much of his success was due to his ground-saving run throughout the race.
War of Will was a 6-1 choice in the race, and he paid $14.20 to win, $7.40 to place and $5.40 to show. Long shot Everfast finished second and paid $32.00 to place and $14.40 to show, while Owendale ran third and $6.00 to show
Preakness Stakes results
Finish: Horse; Jockey; Trainer (Payout)
1. War of Will; Tyler Gaffalione; Mark E. Casse ($900,000)
2. Everfast; Joel Rosario; Dale Romans ($300,000)
3. Owendale; Florent Geroux; Brad Cox ($165,000)
4. Warrior's Charge; Javier Castellano; Brad Cox ($90,000)
5. Laughing Fox; Ricardo Santana Jr.; Steve Asmussen ($45,000)
6. Improbable; Mike Smith.; Bob Baffert
7. Win Win Win; Julian Pimentel; Michael J. Trombetta
8. Bourbon War; Irad Ortiz, Jr.; Mark Hennig
9. Signalman; Brian Hernandez Jr.; Ken McPeek
10. Anothertwistafate; Jose Ortiz; Blaine Wright
11. Alwaysmining; Daniel Centeno; Kelly Rubley
12. Market King; Jon Court; D. Wayne Lukas
13. Bodexpress; John Velazquez; Gustavo Delgado
Betting Payouts (Win, Place, Show)
War of Will ($14.20, $7.40, $5.40)
Everfast (N/A, $32.00, $14.40)
Owendale (N/A, N/A, $6.00)
Exacta (1-10): $947.00
Trifecta (1-10-5): $4,699.80
Superfecta (1-10-5-3): $51,924.00
War of Will was involved in the Kentucky Derby disqualification of Maximum Security. As he mounted his charge in that race, Maximum Security angled out and impeded War of Will. Gaffalione was credited with preventing a potential disaster as War of Will and Maximum Security nearly clipped heels.
There was nothing close to that kind of incident in the Preakness.
"I was just hoping we'd hold on," Gaffalione said about the stretch run during the NBC broadcast. "I didn't even look back because I didn't see if anyone was catching up to me."
Trainer Mark Casse avoided all talk of redemption for the incident at Churchill Downs.
"This is even I think probably more special given everything that we've been through," Casse said, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "I'm not even calling it redemption. I didn't feel like he got his fair shot, and that's all I wanted—a fair shot. And he showed what he had today."
When asked about whether War of Will would race in the Belmont Stakes June 8, Casse said that the final decision would be made by owner Gary Barber, who was not at the race. He characterized an entry in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes as "probable."
Race favorite Improbable finished out of the money in sixth place. The combination of trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith had appeared to give this horse an excellent chance to earn the win, but was unable to mount a serious charge.
Improbable reared up in the starting gate, and appeared to lose concentration. "I thought he might have a chance with 3/8 of a mile to go, but he never got it going," Baffert said while being interviewed on the TVG network after the race. "I don't know that he would have won even if he did make his move. Improbable didn't bring it today."
Long shot Bodexpress unseated jockey John Velazquez at the start of the race and ran around the track without a rider.
While there will not be a Triple Crown winner this year, the top three-year-olds will meet again June 8 at the Belmont Stakes.
Tacitus, Game Winner, Master Fencer, Global Campaign, Tax, Sir Winston and Intrepid Heart are all potential runners in the Belmont Stakes. War of Will and Maximum Security are also potential entrants in that classic.