There would be no Triple Crown at stake in the 2019 Belmont Stakes. Kentucky Derby-winner Country House—who won only after a post-race objection—did not race in the Preakness. War or Will did, however, which set the stage for an intriguing final jewel of the Triple Crown.
Maximum Security crossed the finish line first in Louisville but was disqualified for impeding other horses. This led to Country House's victory. One of the horses impeded by Maximum Security? War of Will.
Might War of Will had a chance to win the Triple Crown if he hadn't been impeded by Maximum Security? We'll never know, but War of Will did enter the Belmont with a chance to be the first horse to win the final two races without winning the Kentucky Derby since Afleet Alex in 2005.
"I learned a long time ago to not think about that kind of stuff," War of Will's trainer, Mark Casse said, per Joe Drape of the New York Times. "Right now, the only thing I’m focusing on is getting there."
Of course, War of Will and the other 10 horses in the Belmont were also competing for a share of a $1.5 million purse.
It wasn't War of Will who won the Belmont, though. It wasn't the favorite, Tacitus either. It was Sir Winston, who surged down the final stretch to overtake long shot Joevia, who led almost the entire race to that point.
2019 Belmont Stakes Results
Horse (Post, Jockey, Trainer)
1. Sir Winston (Joel Rosario, Mark Casse) Payout: $800,000
2. Tacitus (Jose Ortiz, Bill Mott) Payout $300,000
3. Joevia (Jose Lezcano, Gregg Sacco) Payout: $165,000
4. Tax (Irad Ortiz Jr., Danny Gargan): Payout: $90,000
5. Master Fencer (Julien Leparoux, Koichi Tsunoda) Payout: $45,000
6. Spinoff (Javier Castellano, Todd Pletcher)
7. Everfast (Luis Saez, Dale Romans)
8. Intrepid Heart (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher)
9. War of Will (Tyler Gaffalione, Mark Casse)
10. Bourbon War (Mike Smith, Mark Hennig)
Betting Payouts (Win, Place, Show)
Sir Winston ($22.40, $8.80, $6.10)
Tacitus (N/A, $3.90, $3.20)
Joevia (N/A, N/A, $8.70)
$2.00 Exacta (7-10): $96.00
$1.00 Trifecta (7-10-1): $1,244.00
$1.00 Superfecta (7-10-1-4): $10,428.00
So it wasn't War of Will who took the Belmont, though it was trainer Mark Casse who put a horse into the winner's circle—and unpredictable and fitting end to an unusual Triple Crown season.
The race was almost even more unpredictable. As previously mentioned, Joevia had the longest odds in the entire field, yet almost went wire to wire in the lead. Both Sir Winston and favorite Tacitus pulled ahead in the final stretch and just barely ahead of the finish line.
Ultimately, three different horses won each jewel of the triple crown, and there was a fair amount of controversy involved with the first and the last. At one point during the stretch run, it appeared that Sir Winston had impeded War of Will, though there would certainly be no objection from Casse, who trained both horses. There was virtually no way he would raise an objection to his own race-winner.
If anyone predicted that Country House, War of Will and Sir Winston would be the three big winners of the 2019 Triple Crown, they were most likely alone.
Final Odds (via the official Belmont Stakes website)
War of Will: 7-2
Intrepid Heart: 6-1
Bourbon War: 10-1
Sir Winston: 10-1
Master Fencer: 13-1