War of Will upset betting favorite Improbable to win the 2019 Preakness Stakes on Saturday. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione made the most of his Pimlico debut to finish ahead of Everfast and collect the $900,000 share of the $1.5 million purse for finishing first.
It was just reward after a victory achieved by 1 and 1/4 length, with a finishing time of 1:54.34, according to Claire Crosby of BloodHorse. Meanwhile, Improbable could only finish sixth, with Owendale able to show ahead of Warrior's Change and Laughing Fox, who also earned prize money.
NBC Sports showed how War of Will conquered the decisive final stretch:
Here's the race in full:
Final Results (Horse, Jockey, Trainer and 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
Making quick work of a fast track defined how War of Will saw off the competition in Baltimore:
The performance already has trainer Mark Casse looking ahead to Belmont:
War of Will has to be considered a strong contender after the way the three-year old powered home at Pimlico. It's true the field favored him somewhat due to the absences of Kentucky Derby winner Country House through illness and Maximum Security following his disqualification and injury at Churchill Downs.
Even so, there's no denying how impressive War of Will looked on Saturday. Trainer Mark Casse was unapologetic about seeing his horse triumph against supposedly weakened competition, per Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press (h/t The Washington Times): "This is the Preakness. We just won the Preakness. I really don't care who was in it."
Gaffalione applauded the Colt's desire to win and also saluted his good fortune: "He's got so much heart. We always knew he had the ability. We just had to get a little bit lucky, and today was our day."
Casse's show of defiance aside, as well as any luck Gaffalione may have been grateful to receive, War of Will's case was also helped by Improbable's early struggles out of the gate.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert sat Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith on Improbable but still saw the horse rebel at leaving the starting gate. Once settled, Improbable ran well but never hit high gear when it counted.
Bourbon War, who generated late buzz ahead of events on Saturday, per the Associated Press (h/t USA Today Sports) could only finish eighth. However, trainer Mark Hennig is optimistic about the future:
It was a different story for Bodexpress, who threw jockey John Velazquez coming out of the gate, before going on to run alone:
Bodexpress' bizarre journey to the finish line contributed to a race that may not have been as controversial as events in Louisville earlier this month, but it was almost as dramatic. Ultimately, War of Will ended things as a deserving winner.