With no Maximum Security to cut him off this time, War of Will emerged victorious at the 2019 Preakness Stakes.
Facing 6-to-1 odds and running out of the first gate, War of Will emerged on the final turn by running next to the rail and surged to victory. The colt was trained by Mark Casse and ridden to victory by Tyler Gaffalione.
25-to-1 shot Everfast finished second, while 7-to-1 Owendale came in third. Ironically named race favorite Improbable, running at 5-to-2 odds, came in sixth.
War of Will vindicated after Kentucky Derby controversy
War of Will’s win comes after a central role in the dramatic Kentucky Derby disqualification of Maximum Security. Racing stewards ruled that War of Will was unfairly impeded by Maximum Security during the race, leading to the latter’s disqualification.
“I’m not even calling it redemption,” Casse said on the broadcast after the race. “I didn’t feel like he got his fair shot, and that’s all I wanted, a fair shot. He showed what he had today.”
A jockey-less horse steals the show
Even though War of Will ended up wearing the Black-Eyed Susans, another horse became the darling of social media.
Bodexpress bucked jockey John Velazquez at the beginning and continued to run in the race, hanging with the pack and actually managing to finish ahead of some of the other horses. Outriders were unable to corral Bodexpress during the race, and he managed to keep running for sometime after the race as well.
Bodexpress tossed his jockey right out of the gate at Preakness. Jockey is ok. Horse kept running pic.twitter.com/n9VdWrmbim
— Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) May 18, 2019
Of course, War of Will’s win and Bodexpress’ wild ride didn’t negate the cloud that was hanging over this year’s Preakness.
Preakness had been deflated by withdrawals
As strong as War of Will’s win was, it will very likely only go down as an interesting footnote of one of the most controversial sagas in horse racing history.
Absent from the Preakness Stakes was Kentucky Derby winner Country House, which was withdrawn from the field due to an illness shortly after its longshot win. Such a withdrawal hadn’t been seen since 1996, when Derby winner Grindstone had to be pulled out with a knee injury.
The loss of the Kentucky Derby winner and any chance of a Triple Crown will always be a massive blow to the anticipation of the Preakness, but that loss was compounded by the withdrawal of Maximum Security.
Despite crossing the finish line first, Maximum Security was disqualified in shocking fashion by racing stewards after ruling it had interfered with War of Will as they rounded the final turn. The decision was appealed, a lawsuit was filed, a jockey was suspended after being compared to a drunk driver, millions in bets were lost, a $20 million challenge was issued and, of course, the president jumped in with his opinion on Twitter.
There were also some problems with the Preakness itself. The aging Pimlico Race Course saw an unfortunate death the night before the big race when 3-year-old filly Congrats Gal suffered a sudden heart attack. A broken water main also reportedly led to an entire floor of bathrooms at Pimlico’s grandstand being closed down and massive lines forming for bathrooms on other floors.
Without Maximum Security and Country House, the Preakness was no longer must-see TV. War of Will got its cathartic win, but not being able to see the Kentucky Derby’s two biggest names go at it again sapped away mainstream interest in the race.
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