War of Will could write unique Triple Crown comeback story in Belmont

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With the dust more than settled after a historic Kentucky Derby finish at Churchill Downs, all eyes are on War of Will. Beyond Maximum Security’s historic disqualification in the 145th Kentucky Derby is War of Will’s Preakness Stakes win and potential in the 151st Belmont Stakes on June 8.

Two weeks after Maximum Security drifted in front of War of Will, contributing to the colt’s 8th place finish (elevated to 7th), he and his connections proved the colt is something special.

War of Will, known as WOW by his acquaintances, found his place on the rail in the middle of the pack before breaking through an opening on the homestretch to pass pace-setter Warrior’s Charge and win the 144th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

Recap: War of Will wins the 2019 Preakness Stakes

The win is especially sweet considering WOW was the horse most impacted by Maximum Security. Though Maximum Security was controversially disqualified 22 minutes after crossing the wire, War of Will still finished out of the money.

With War of Will’s charge in the Preakness, it’s hard not to wonder what could have been, had Maximum Security not stepped out of his lane. If Jason Servis’ colt had stayed put, would War of Will have been able to pull ahead to win?

Kentucky Derby drama: What actually happened?

Regardless of what could have, would have, should have been, WOW still has the chance to make history on June 8 at Belmont Park.

Should War of Will win the 12 furlong “Test of the Champion,” he would become just the 12th horse ever to run in the Kentucky Derby and lose, then come back to win the other two Triple Crown races. Afleet Alex was the last horse to do this in 2005.

What to know about the 151st Belmont Stakes

Most of the horses who pulled off this feat went on to win champion 3-year-old male horse, and four were named overall Horse of the Year for their 3-year-old season, according to America’s Best Racing.

Among those to fall short in the Derby but win the Preakness and Belmont was Native Dancer, was one of the most dominant horses in history. Known as the “Grey Ghost,” he won 21 of 22 starts (the one loss being the 1953 Kentucky Derby) and can be found in many champion pedigrees.

Other horses in this exclusive club include Capot (1949), Nashua (1955), Damascus (1967) and Point Given (2001). Horse racing legend Man o’ War won the 1920 Preakness and Belmont but didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby.

Watch the 2019 Belmont Stakes only on NBC and NBCSN. Coverage on NBCSN begins Friday, June 7 at 5 p.m. for the Belmont Gold Cup and continues on Saturday, June 8 at 2:30 p.m. before moving to NBC at 4 p.m. Post time is set for approximately 6:38 p.m. See the full broadcast schedule here.

Higher Power wins $1M Pacific Classic

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DEL MAR, Calif. — With his top two horses elsewhere, John Sadler took a chance with a couple others in his barn.

Higher Power paid off.

The 4-year-old colt took command turning into the stretch and won the $1 million Pacific Classic by 5 1/4 lengths at Del Mar on Saturday, making Sadler the first trainer to win the Grade 1 race in consecutive years with different horses.

“The second time is just as sweet,” Sadler said.

In 2018, Accelerate ended Sadler’s 0-for-11 skid with a record 12 1/2-length victory in the West’s biggest race of the summer. Owner-brothers Kosta and Pete Hronis joined Sadler with consecutive victories.

“Winning it back to back is a tribute to John Sadler,” Kosta Hronis said.

Ridden by Flavien Prat, Higher Power ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.43 at the seaside track north of San Diego. Sent off at 9-1 odds, the colt paid $21.20, $9.40 and $7.40.

“When we entered the backside he really grabbed the bit and I was travelling really well,” Prat said. “Once the leader fell apart he really jumped into the bridle and did everything on his own, so I thought that was the right move.”

Draft Pick returned $17.40 and $10 at 13-1 odds. Mongolian Groom was another neck back in third and paid $7.20 to show at 18-1 odds.

Higher Power earned an automatic berth in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita this fall.

Seeking the Soul, the 2-1 favorite, finished seventh.

“He didn’t try at all,” jockey John Velazquez said. “No effort. I don’t get it.”

Sadler’s top two handicap horses, Gift Box and Catalina Cruiser, weren’t in the picture. Gift Box won’t run again until this fall and Catalina Cruiser is tabbed to run next in a sprint race.

Not seeing a dominant horse in the race, Sadler entered Higher Power. The colt responded with the first stakes win of his career.

“It developed pretty much the way we thought,” he said. “We thought there would be some speed on the inside and the plan was to stalk. It came out the way we thought it would.”

Sadler’s other entry, Campaign, finished fifth.

The victory, worth $600,000, increased Higher Power’s career earnings to $800,648, with five wins in 13 starts.

Sadler didn’t get Higher Power in his barn until spring. The colt was with another trainer for the first six starts of his career and then transferred to a different trainer.

In other stakes:

– Acclimate won the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap by a length under Florent Geroux. The 5-year-old brown gelding earned an automatic berth in the BC Turf.

Trained by Phil D’Amato, Acclimate ran 1 3/8 miles on turf in 2:12.71 and paid $16.60 to win at 7-1 odds.

– Cambier Parc shipped in from New York and won the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks by 1 1/4 lengths for trainer Chad Brown.

Ridden by Velazquez, the 3-year-old filly ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:46.75. She paid $4.40 as the 6-5 favorite.

– Fighting Mad cruised to an eight-length victory in the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes.

Ridden by Joe Talamo, the 3-year-old filly ran one mile in 1:38.61. Fighting Mad paid $6.60 as the 2-1 favorite trained by Bob Baffert. She’s owned by Gary and Mary West, owners of Maximum Security, disqualified after finishing first in the Kentucky Derby.

– Mr Vargas won the $100,000 Green Flash Handicap by 2 1/4 lengths.

The 5-year-old gelding ran five furlongs on turf in 56.15 seconds under Talamo. Mr Vargas paid $8.40 to win for trainer Brian Koriner.

Horologist upsets Jaywalk in Monmouth Oaks

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OCEANPORT, N.J. — Horologist upset Jaywalk, last year’s juvenile filly champion, in the $162,500 Monmouth Oaks on Saturday.

As expected, 1-5 favorite Jaywalk set the pace until Horologist made a strong run along the rail on the final turn. She slipped by to win by three quarters of a length in the stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Monmouth Park.

Horologist, bred in New Jersey, won for the fifth time in 10 starts for trainer John Mazza. Mazza said he was confident his horse would run a “bang-up race,” but he didn’t know it would be enough to beat a “champion like Jaywalk.”

Angel Suarez was aboard for the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.44.

Jaywalk was coming off a nine-length win in the Delaware Oaks last month. She closed out last season by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies to clinch the Eclipse Award.

Horologist – whose name refers to a maker or dealer of timepieces – paid 12.80, $3.40 and $2.10 as the 5-1 second choice in the five-horse field.

Jaywalk returned $2.10 and $2.10. Sweet Sami D paid $2.10 to show, and was followed by Lady Banba and Stay Smart.