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Preakness a testament to Kentucky’s horse industry as top five finishers based as Churchill, Keeneland

The Preakness Stakes is staged at Maryland’s Pimlico Race Course, but Saturday’s results proved a Kentucky landslide. Keyed by War of Will’s 1 1/4-length victory over Everfast, the top five finishers are all based at Churchill Downs or Keeneland.

At left: War of Will, in pink silks on rail, keyed an all-Kentucky top five, with Everfast, black and gold silks with yellow cap, Owendale, outside in purple and gold with black blinkers, Warrior’s Charge, turquoise silks with white bridle, and Laughing Fox, with blue and white silks and big white blaze). (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club photo)

The superfecta filled out by the Mark Casse-trained 6-1 shot War of Will, 29-1 Everfast (Dale Romans), 7-1 Owendale (Brad Cox) and 12-1 Warrior’s Charge (Cox) returned $51,924 for a $1 wager. With the Steve Asmussen-trained 21-1 shot Laughing Fox rallying from last to take fifth, no one hit the $1 Super High Five, resulting in a carryover of $404,310 when racing resumes Thursday at Pimlico.

War of Will’s regular rider is Tyler Gaffalione, who has relocated his spring and fall base to Kentucky. Owendale is ridden by Florent Geroux and Laughing Fox by Ricardo Santana Jr., both regulars at Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Kentucky Downs.

“It’s a testament to the quality of our horses and horsemanship that there is around Churchill Downs, around Kentucky, at Ellis Park,” Romans said. “It’s proven once again that Kentucky is a great place to develop a horse.”

Casse gives a lot of credit for working with War of Will to David Carroll, the former trainer who oversees Casse’s winter division at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans before moving to Keeneland in the spring and fall and Churchill Downs during the summer.

“It shows you the depth of horsemanship and talent and trainers in the state of Kentucky,” Carroll said. “Obviously New York and California get a lot of press. But Kentucky, there are so many trainers here right now that given the opportunity are as good as anybody in the country.

Tyler Gaffalione wins the Preakness on War of Will. (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

“I’m proud of all the guys who participated in the Preakness, because they’re our friends, they’re our colleagues. We want to kick their butt every day (racing), but we root for one another at the same time. I think it’s great for the state of Kentucky, and racing is only getting stronger. Owners now (understand), economically, it’s a better place to train your horse and race your horse, and the purses are going up.”

Out of the 13 Preakness horses, seven are from Kentucky outfits, with Signalman and Market King finishing off the board. The highest finisher not from Kentucky was the California-based 5-2 post-time favorite Improbable, who wound up sixth, a nose behind Laughing Fox.

Every Kentucky horse in the Preakness has raced at Churchill Downs at least once, with War of Will, Everfast, Owendale (winning the Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington in his previous start), Signalman and Market King also having raced at Keeneland. The Preakness also provided another endorsement for Ellis Park’s burgeoning 2-year-old program, with Everfast winning his racing debut there last Aug. 12 and Owendale making his first two career starts at the track.

Ellis Park’s 2-year-old racing last year also produced the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Oaks in Ellis Park Debutante winner Serengeti Empress, who is trained by Tom Amoss. Fillies stabled at Churchill Downs completed the superfecta, worth $67,087.40 for a $1 bet, with 13-1 Serengeti Empress, 38-1 runner-up Liora, 10-1 third-place Lady Apple and 8-1 Champagne Anyone in fourth.

From Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association

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