BALTIMORE (AP) — War Will bounced back from a bumpy ride in the Kentucky Derby to win the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, holding off a field that included a riderless horse that threw his jockey from the gate and kept running.
Trainer Mark Casse got his first Triple Crown victory, with War Will unfazed beginning from the inner No. 1 place position for the second successive race. War of Will endured a rough trip and has been interfered with in the Kentucky Derby, which led to first-place finisher Maximum Security being disqualified.
Casse was just thankful War Will did not go down in the Derby, which could’ve turned into a multihorse catastrophe.
“That is even I think likely more particular given everything that we’ve been through,” Casse said. “I am not calling it redemption. I didn’t feel like he got his fair shot, and that is all I wanted — a fair shot. And he revealed what he had now.”
War of Will was.
Bodexpress threw Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez just out of the starting gate but still ended the race and did an extra lap around the Pimlico track. An outrider tried to swoop in on peak of the stretch and corral Bodexpress, but the horse sped up and passed a few competitors close to the finish line — and kept moving. Technically, Bodexpress gets a did-not-finish.
“He wasn’t behaving nicely,” said Velazquez, who added he is fine and would not seek medical care. “Once the doors opened, I had been off right from the start and he sort of jumped and that I had my feet out sideways and I lost my balance and then went outside.”
War Will made a movement around the last turn led by jockey Tyler Gaffalione and did not relent down the stretch. Late addition Everfast arrived in second and Owendale third. Casse, 58, entered a horse in the Preakness for the fifth time and came two decades back when Classic Empire finished next.
“I am just very happy for Mark to receive his very first Classic win,” Gaffalione explained. “pleased for your horse. He deserved it more than anything else. He is so unique.”
It’s also a breakthrough for Gaffalione, that has become something of a rising superstar since being named top apprentice riders in 2015. Gaffalione, 24, was aboard War of Will for the colt’s sixth successive race and came away with the biggest victory of his young career.
“It really has not even hit me yet,” he said. “I can not even put it into words.
Bob Baffert-trained Improbable was beaten as the favorite for the second successive Triple Crown race. Improbable finished sixth at the 13-horse field that was the biggest at the Preakness because 2011.
It was the first Preakness run with no Kentucky Derby winner since 1996 — this time without the horse that crossed the finish line and the long-shot Country House who had been elevated to first after Maximum Security was disqualified for interference. Go back to 1951 for the last time that the Preakness was run with no top four finishers in the Derby.
The race has been run at a tumultuous time for horse racing.
Following 23 horse deaths at Santa Anita Park within a three-month span, there was another in coaching Friday, and a filly collapsed and died after a race at Pimlico on Friday. Then there was the disqualification of Maximum Security in Churchill Downs and the consequent lawsuit filed by owners Gary and Mary West and suspension handed down to jockey Luis Saez.
In Maryland, the Stronach Group that owns the track — and also Santa Anita — is embroiled in an ongoing quarrel with local politicians over the future of their Preakness being at historic but aging Pimlico or the owners’ favorite Laurel Park about 30 miles south. More than 6,000 grandstand seats were cordoned off because they were deemed dangerous, and also a water main break disrupted preparations for the event and left a shortage of running water on race day.
All over the nation, horse racing is fending off a threat to its very existence in the kind of legalized sports gambling. Yet the Maryland Jockey Club reported a record attendance and amount wager on Black-Eyed Susan Day on Friday.

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