Tacitus favored in Belmont Stakes; War of Will second choice

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NEW YORK — Winning the Preakness wasn’t enough to make War of Will the Belmont Stakes favorite.

In fact, being the only colt to run in all three Triple Crown races really didn’t earn him the respect one would expect.

Well-rested Tacitus was made the slight favorite over the hard-working War of Will in a Belmont Stakes that wraps up a whacky Triple Crown.

Tacitus and War of Will got the outside No. 10 and 9 post positions, respectively, on Tuesday in the draw at Citi Field, but those should not be a problem in the 1 1/2-mile race on Saturday at Belmont Park.

Tacitus was made the 9-5 morning-line favorite for trainer Bill Mott and jockey Jose Ortiz. War of Will is the 2-1 second choice for trainer Mark Casse and jockey Tyler Gaffalione.

“I had read in the last couple of days that he wasn’t going to be,” Casse said of not being the favorite. “There’s a few things against him. Tacitus has the home-field advantage. He’s the only guy to play in all three. I’m sure it has to take some toll on him.”

Casse believes War of Will has his best ahead of him, saying he has looked good.

The only thing that threatened him on Tuesday was a couple of loose horses on the track during a morning gallop, but War of Will didn’t seem to notice.

Tacitus has not raced since being elevated into third place in the Derby so he is going to be a lot fresher than War of Will. The colt also likes racing in New York. He won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in prepping for the Kentucky Derby and he is the son of Tapit, who has sired three of the last five Belmont winners.

“I’m not worried about it at this moment,” Mott said of the distance. “I guess we’ve got to see it to believe it. It’s like the Derby, a test by fire, You really only know when it’s over if they’ll do it or not. I feel quite positive about it.”

Thus far this Triple Crown has been memorable for all the wrong reasons.

A year after Justify electrified the racing world by capturing the Triple Crown, thoroughbred’s biggest event for 3-year-olds ended in chaos after Maximum Security was disqualified after finishing first in the Derby. Country House was placed first.

Within days, the owners of Maximum Security and Country House said they would be skipping the Preakness, meaning there would be no Triple Crown.

War of Will was impressive in winning the Preakness but the race was overshadowed when a rival colt threw its rider at the start and ran around the track during the race.

Now comes the Belmont and hopefully it go smoothly.

Joevia drew the No. 1 post position. Jose Lezvano is the jockey on the 30-1 choice.

The rest of the field in post-position order with horse, jockey and odds is:

Everfast, Luis Saez, 12; Master Fencer, Julien Leparoux, 8; Tax, Irad Ortiz, 15; Bourbon War, Mike Smith, 12; Spinoff, Javier Castellano, 15; Sir Winston, Joel Rosario, 12; Intrepid Heart, John Velazquez, 10; War of Will and Tacitus.

“I don’t think there was a bad post position,” said Casse, who had War of Will get the No. 1 post in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. “I like our post position. It’s the first time we’ve got a decent post. It allows us to do a little bit of deciding. If nobody wants the lead, he’ll be on the lead. If a couple of horses inside take off, he’ll tuck in. I love the post position.”

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.