BALTIMORE — War of Will, who lost a chance at victory in the Kentucky Derby after tangling with Maximum Security, rebounded to win the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes.
Two weeks ago, 22 minutes after Maximum Security appeared to be the emphatic winner of the 145th Derby, three stewards, horse racing’s version of referees, ruled that when the colt had jumped a puddle, he impeded the progress of a rival, War of Will, almost knocking off that colt’s rider, Tyler Gaffalione.
It set off a chain reaction that resulted Maximum Security being disqualified and placing 17th. Gaffalione was aboard War of Will in the Preakness.
By contrast, the Preakness was a low-wattage affair. Maximum Security was not here. Nor was the horse who became the winner of the Kentucky Derby through a disqualification — Country House.
In fact, it was the first time since 1951 that the second leg of the Triple Crown did not include any of the first four horses that crossed the finish line in the Derby.
Maximum Security is recovering at Monmouth Park on the Jersey Shore after his wild, taxing race in the Kentucky Derby; his owners, Gary and Mary West, are attempting to salve their broken hearts with an attempt at having the disqualification overruled in federal court. Country House was a no-show because of an infection that will keep him out of the Belmont Stakes as well.
On the eve of the race, two racehorses died at tracks owned by The Stronach Group, which owns Pimlico Racecourse.
In Baltimore on Friday, a 3-year-old filly named Congrats Gal died soon after pulling up and finishing last in the nine-horse field in the Miss Preakness Stakes.
“Congrats Gal suffered sudden death after the eighth race today,” the Stronach Group said in a statement, without giving a cause of death. “The incident occurred after the wire. Commission veterinarians attended to the horse immediately. Our thoughts go out to all of the owners, trainers and connections of Congrats Gal.”
At Santa Anita Park in Southern California, a 3-year-old gelding named Commander Coil became the 24th fatality at the racetrack since Dec. 26, a series of events that already has suspended racing at the legendary track twice and threatened to close down the sport in the state forever.
Commander Coil was euthanized after breaking down with a shoulder injury during training hours. In a statement, the Stronach Group said: “Equine shoulder injuries are rare, especially for a horse that is galloping as opposed to breezing or racing. A comprehensive evaluation will be completed to understand what might have caused this uncommon injury.”
The fatality was the first since March 31 at Santa Anita, which announced a ban on the use of medication and whips on racing days after the 22nd death.