We will assume the horses don’t have ready access to newspapers, websites, Twitter (despite a few @HorseNameHere accounts out there) or the Today Show, so War Of Will knew nothing of the drama following the Kentucky Derby – where Maximum Security won and was disqualified for interfering with (among others) War Of Will.
Nor was War Of Will aware of the defections of the first five home in the Derby – Maximum Security, Country House, Code Of Honor and Tacitus.
But he sure ran like he had something to prove. Eighth across the line in the Derby two weeks earlier, War Of Will and Tyler Gaffalione set up in fourth behind Warrior’s Charge, Market King and Anothertwistafate early and waited. Still behind three horses on the final turn, War Of Will accelerated when Warrior’s Charge leaned out at the top of the stretch and made the lead without going around a single horse. The son of War Front had plenty left for late closer Everfast, who angled inside in the stretch to come up 1 1/4 lengths short in second with Owendale a nose back in third.
As for drama, it began early as Bodexpress reared coming out of the gate and sent jockey John Velazquez to the dirt before racing along behind the field for the entire Preakness distance.
War Of Will, trained by Mark Casse for Gary Barber, won for the fourth time in 10 starts and earned $990,000 while setting the stage for a potential rematch with Maximum Security this summer. The Preakness winner looks to be headed to the Belmont Stakes June 8 while Maximum Security is aiming for a Monmouth Park comeback June 16. Derby winner Country House is out of action with an illness.
Fair Hill Horses
It wasn’t meant to be for Win Win Win and Alwaysmining, two Preakness starters based at Fair Hill Training Center across the street from TIHR headquarters in Maryland. They broke well, found spots close to pace early but flattened out in the latter stages. Alwaysmining had won six in a row coming in and was bet down to third choice at just under 7-1. He faded to be 11th.
Breaking from post 13, Win Win Win was three wide in fifth on the first turn and five wide on the second before making a brief bid before tiring to finish seventh.
Preakness Day Undercard
The 14-race card included eight other stakes in addition to the Preakness. Red Oak Stable’s King For A Day got things started in the Sir Barton for 3-year-olds going 6 furlongs. Ridden by Velazquez for Todd Pletcher, the favorite won by 2 1/2 lengths in his first start of 2019.
Calumet Farm’s English Bee won the Jimmy Murphy Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf, prevailing in a stretch battle with Real News to win by a half-length. Bred by Calumet, the winner is a son of farm stallion English Channel and the Kitten’s Joy mare Evil Kitten. Calumet general manager Eddie Kane credited owner Brad Kelley with the mating. Graham Motion trains the winner, who won his debut at Presque Isle Downs last fall and won an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in January before finishing a troubled fifth at Tampa Bay Downs in March.
“He had a rough trip in Tampa and Graham suggested we wait for this race and that the extra time would help him,” said Kane. “It paid off. He’s by English Channel and they’re gutty son of a guns. The English Channel-Kitten’s Joy cross is pretty good. Credit Mr. Kelley for that. He’s the one who suggested it.”
Calumet was back a few races later when Lexitonian (Jose Ortiz) won the Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes at 6 furlongs. Also a homebred, the winner prevailed in a three-way photo finish with Gladiator King and Admiral Lynch. Sent off at 17-1, Lexitonian started his career with Pletcher last year (winning his debut in June) and was making his second start for Jack Sisterson in the Lang. The son of Speightstown was fifth (behind Borracho and Hidden Scroll) in an allowance at Churchill Downs on Derby Day.
“He ran what I thought was a really credible fifth in a tough allowance race at Churchill,” said Sisterson, who won a Preakness with I’ll Have Another while an assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill. “He came back fine. He’s a horse that the more you work the more he could go over the top so I may as well run him instead of work him.”
Trainer Steve Asmussen’s horses are always tough on Preakness Day and New York Central kept the streak going with a 1 3/4-length win in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint for WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing. From the inside post position, the 4-year-old bobbled leaving the gate and found a spot in fourth early as up front Lewisfield and Wentz put up fractions of :22.65 and :44.19. New York Central pounced in the stretch and blasted past 6 furlongs in 1:08.74. Proforma was second with Lewisfield third. Ricardo Santana Jr. was aboard the son of Speightstown, a $750,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga graduate.
Triton Stable’s Ickymasho (Ortiz) lived up to her favorite’s role in a stylish score in the 1 1/2-mile Searching Stakes on the turf. Roger Attfield trains the winner, who picked up her 10th win from 40 lifetime starts. She’s won back-to-back starts in North America after starting her career in England. The English-bred daughter of Multiplex set up shop on the lead and stayed well clear, winning by 3 ¼ lengths over Vevina. The winner covered her final half-mile in :47.67 while never being challenged.
Brittyln Stable’s Wild About Star made quick work of the The Very One Stakes, covering 5 furlongs in :56.93 for jockey Daniel Centeno. The daughter of Brittlyn stallion Star Guitar collected her sixth career win in her first start for trainer Jose Camejo, who took over from Al Stall this spring.
Country House wasn’t at Pimlico Saturday, but his older half-sister Mitchell Road made the trip and stood up for the family in taking the Grade 3 Gallorette on the turf. Trained by Bill Mott for Shields and McFadden, the winner took the lead early under Joel Rosario and made it last while winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Thewayiam with Viva Vegas third. Mitchell Road gave stallion English Channel his second win on the card, while collecting her fifth win (to go with two seconds) in seven starts. Mitchell Road and Country House are out of the War Chant mare Quake Lake.
Favorite Catholic Boy added another graded stakes on the turf with a win in the Grade 2 Dixie one race before the Preakness. The 4-year-old was making his 2019 debut, after a 2018 campaign that included Grade 1 wins on turf and dirt for Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stable, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing and trainer Jonathan Thomas. Javier Castellano rode the winner, who held off Admission Office by a half-length with Just Howard a neck back in third and Real Story a nose behind that one in fourth.
Pimlico set an all-time handle record with $99.85 million wagered on Saturday’s card. Attendance was 131,256.
Triple Crown Handicappers Report
The team was hard at work in the stakes races Saturday at Pimlico, and had predictably mixed results. Tom Law tabbed four winners – King For A Day, New York Central, Ickymasho and Mitchell Road. Ben Gowans had three – King For A Day, New York Central and Ickymasho. John Cox came up with three – Ickymasho, Mitchell Road and Catholic Boy. Sean Clancy had one winner – Ickymasho. John Shapazian landed three – King For A Day, Ickymasho and $14.20 Preakness hero War Of Will. Joe Clancy had two – Catholic Boy and War Of Will – after starting the day with seven consecutive losses.
For the season, it looks like this: Ben and Tom tied for the lead with nine winners, followed by John and John tied with seven each, Sean with six and Joe with five. Bring on Belmont Weekend.
More Mitchell at Radnor
The Mikey Mitchell beat just goes on. The jockey won three at the only NSA stop on the calendar Saturday, Pennsylvania’s Radnor Hunt Races.
Mitchell landed the opener, a $30,000 maiden hurdle, aboard Prayer Hope for DASH Stable and trainer Jack Fisher. The 4-year-old son of Tapit defeated Fisher-trained stablemate Gostisbehere by three-quarters of a length with Master Plan third.
Prayer Hope started life on a different career path – entirely. Bred by Three Chimneys Farm and Besilu Stable, the bay colt sold for $700,000 at Keeneland September. Racing for Besilu and trainer Jonathan Thomas, Prayer Hope finished third in a Monmouth Park turf maiden late last summer – his only start for the connections – before being purchased by Fisher.
Mason Lampton’s Maccabee won his third race of the spring with a 2-length score in a 120 handicap hurdle for trainer Lilith Boucher and jockey Richard Boucher. The 6-year-old son of Street Hero won a maiden claimer at Aiken in March, and has added back-to-back handicap hurdles after finishing seventh at Camden. Saturday, Stormy Alex was second after leading much of the way, with Mathayus third.
Running for the second time in six days, Pured It (right, Tod Marks photo) upset the $35,000 Radnor Hunt Cup timber stakes, leading throughout and holding off the late charge of Le Chevalier by a neck after 3 1/4 miles. Eddie Keating rode the winner for Sycamore Run Farm and Move Up Stable and trainer Kathy Neilson. Two’s Company finished third.
Corky Lemon won his second consecutive hurdle start, taking the $35,000 allowance hurdle by 1 3/4 lengths for jockey Willie McCarthy. The West Virginia-bred son of Denis Of Cork won a maiden hurdle at the Queen’s Cup for trainer Nancy Ruch, and looked good enough doing it to get purchased by trainer Mark Beecher for Heather and Peter Austin. The winner fought past Soluble late, with Roller Rolls On and Other Cheek just behind in a four-horse field.
Mitchell completed his triple with back-to-back wins to close the card. Coming from last early, he steered English-bred Av A Word home in the 110 handicap hurdle over First Friday with Moorland third. The winner drew off late to score by 4 1/2 lengths as Balistes and Mutin fell at the last fence.
Mitchell got aboard Brooklyn Speights in the finale, a $20,000 maiden claiming hurdle, and engineered a neck win over Knockholt with Aregentic third.
The triple gave Mitchell 12 wins on the year, four more than Sean McDermott. Jack Doyle is third with six. Fisher won one to continue his dominance of the trainers’ standings with 18 wins, 11 more than his nearest rival Jonathan Sheppard. Neilson was third with seven wins.
Steeplechase Handicappers Report
The TIHR handicappers did some damage at Radnor with Joe tabbing three winners (Prayer Hope, Corky Lemon and Brooklyn Speights). Tom came up with Av A Word and Brooklyn Speights. Sean won the opener with Prayer Hope, but took the collar from there. Turning to Fair Hill this weekend, the season series stands Tom 23, Joe 21, Sean 15.