War of Will bounces back to win the Preakness

BALTIMORE (AP) — War Will bounced back by a bumpy ride in the Kentucky Derby to win the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, holding off a field that included a riderless horse that drove his jockey out of the gate and kept running.
Trainer Mark Casse acquired his first Triple Crown victory, with War of Will unfazed starting from the inside 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 only thankful War of Will did not return in the Derby, which could have turned into a multihorse catastrophe.
“This is I think likely more particular given everything that we have been through,” Casse said. “I’m not even calling it redemption. I didn’t feel like he got his fair shot, and that’s all I desired — a reasonable shot. And he showed what he had today.”
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 attempted to swoop in at the peak of the stretch and corral Bodexpress, but the horse sped up and passed a couple of competitors near the end line — and kept moving. Technically, Bodexpress understands a did-not-finish.
“He was not behaving nicely,” said Velazquez, who added he is fine and would not seek out medical attention. “When the doors opened, I had been off directly from the start and he sort of jumped and that I had my feet out sideways and I lost my balance and then went out.”
War of Will made a movement around the last turn led by jockey Tyler Gaffalione and didn’t relent down the stretch. Addition Everfast came in second and Owendale third. Casse, 58, entered a horse at the Preakness for the fifth time and arrived closest two years back when Classic Empire finished next.
“I am just pleased for Mark to get his first Classic win,” Gaffalione explained. “Very happy for your horse. He deserved it more. He is so unique.”
It’s also a breakthrough for Gaffalione, who is now something of a rising superstar since being called top apprentice rider 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 explained. “I can’t even put it into words.
Bob Baffert-trained Improbable was beaten as the preferred for its 2nd successive Triple Crown race. Improbable finished sixth in the 13-horse area that was the biggest at the Preakness because 2011.
This 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 was raised to first after Maximum Security was disqualified for interference. Return to 1951 for the last time that the Preakness was run with no top four finishers in the Derby.
The race was run in a tumultuous time for horse racing.
After 23 horse fatalities at Santa Anita Park over a two-year interval, there was still another in training Friday, and also a filly collapsed and died after a race at Pimlico on Friday. Then there was the disqualification of Maximum Security at Churchill Downs and the ensuing lawsuit filed by owners Gary and Mary West and suspension handed down to jockey Luis Saez.
In Maryland, the Stronach Group that owns the trail — and also Santa Anita — is headquartered in an ongoing quarrel with local politicians over the future of the Preakness being at historical but aging Pimlico or the owners’ favored Laurel Park about 30 miles south. Over 6,000 grandstand seats were cordoned off since they were deemed unsafe, and also a water main break disrupted preparations for the event and left a lack of water on race day.
All over the nation, horse racing is fending off a threat to its very existence in the form of legalized sports betting. Nevertheless the Maryland Jockey Club reported that a record attendance and amount bet on Black-Eyed Susan Day on Friday.

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