War of Will wins the 2019 Preakness Stakes

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War of Will, jockeyed by Tyler Gaffalione and trained by Mark Casse, won the 144th Preakness Stakes after a brief inquiry. This is the first Triple Crown win for both Casse and Gaffalione.

The win comes two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, where War of Will was one of the primary horses Maximum Security impeded during one of the most historic and controversial Kentucky Derby races on record. War of Will, known as “WOW” around the barn, finished 8th at Churchill and was elevated to 7th.

“I’m very happy for the horse,” Gaffalione said. “He deserved it more than anything. He’s so special. It really hasn’t even hit me yet. I can’t even put it into words.”

Jockey John Velazquez was unseated off of Bodexpress out of the gate, and the riderless No. 9 horse continued to run with the pack. Stewards flagged the incident but quickly cleared it and listed him as “did not finish.” Outriders couldn’t attempt to catch him until later in the race because of how close he was running to other horses.

“I’m good,” Velazquez said. “To tell you the truth I’m just disappointed.”

After starting four back from pace-setter Warrior’s Charge, War of Will clung to the rail until sneaking through an opening down the homestretch to take over the lead. Longshot Everfast finished 1 1/4 lengths behind in second, and Owendale took third. Improbable, Bob Baffert‘s morning line favorite jockeyed by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, finished in fourth. Maryland-bred Alwaysmining ran 11th. See the full results here.

War of Will’s win comes just two weeks after one of the most controversial Kentucky Derby races in history. Maximum Security led wire-to-wire but was disqualified 22 minutes after crossing the finish line for impacting the forward progress of several horses, including War of Will and Bodexpress. Track stewards disqualified him, and every horse was moved up one position. Longshot Country House (65-1) finished second and was elevated to first.

For the first time since Grindstone in 1996, the Kentucky Derby winner didn’t run. Country House showed signs of a developing illness and stopped training. Maximum Security was rested after the Derby.

This was also the first time that none of the top-3 Kentucky Derby finishers have run in the second leg of the Triple Crown since 1951.

The Preakness Stakes, raced annually at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, is marked by its shorter distance and smaller field. Run just two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, the fast turnaround time can be the biggest challenge for horses who just ran at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

NBC’s coverage of the Triple Crown concludes at Belmont Park for the 151st Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 8 on NBC and the NBC Sports app.

Last year, Baffert’s horse Justify won the 143rd Preakness with Smith en route to win the 2018 Triple Crown. Owned by WinStar Farm, he became the 13th horse to do so and Baffert’s second, just three years after American Pharoah in 2015.

Maximum Security to race for first time since Kentucky Derby

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OCEANPORT, N.J. — Maximum Security will race this weekend for the first time since being disqualified in the Kentucky Derby.

The Jason Servis-trained colt was among six 3-year-olds entered Thursday for the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sunday.

The 1 1/16-mile race in New Jersey will be the first in more than two months for Maximum Security. The colt galloped 1 1/8 miles here Wednesday.

In the Derby on May 2, Maximum Security got to the finish line 1}-lengths ahead of Country House. The victory was overturned 22 minutes later when the stewards disqualified the 9-2 second choice because of interference with eventual Preakness winner War of Will and other horses.

It marked the first time in the 145-year history of the Derby that the first-place finisher was disqualified for interference.

Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera coming to Saratoga Race Course

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Opening weekend festivities at Saratoga Race Course will feature an appearance by former New York Yankees star Mariano Rivera.

The New York Racing Association announced Wednesday it will honor Rivera July 12 with a ceremony in the winner’s circle in recognition of baseball’s all-time saves leader.

Fans will have an opportunity to meet the 13-time All-Star during a luncheon in the Paddock Tent. The event will feature a discussion session with Rivera, photo opportunities and an auction featuring his memorabilia.

Proceeds of the luncheon will benefit one of Rivera’s charities.

Rivera’s visit will come one week before he heads to Cooperstown for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame as the first unanimous selection in history.