At the beginning, there was Omaha Beach and Maximum Security who sparked the public’s interest in thoroughbred racing with the distinct possibility of a third Triple Crown winner in five years, coming on the heels of Justify last year and American Pharoah in 2015.
But Omaha Beach was scratched in the last few weeks leading up to the Gr.1 Kentucky Derby.
And then the 2019 US Triple Crown had some interesting episodes for which the races will be remembered for a long long time to come.
Maximum Security was disqualified in the Kentucky Derby. Maximum Security led almost all the way from opening gun to the finish line. But the fleeting contact with War of Will as the horses rounded the final turn was apparently enough to violate Section 12 of rule 810 KAR1:016 in the rulebook that governs the derby resulting in the disqualification of the winner of the Gr.1 Kentucky Derby winner for the first time in the race’s history.
Bill Mott trained runner up Country House was awarded first place in the Kentucky Derby.
The result caused huge controversy, with even the US President weighing in. “The Kentuky [Kentucky] Derby decision was not a good one,” Donald Trump wrote on Twitter the day after the race. “It was a rough and tumble race on a wet and sloppy track, actually, a beautiful thing to watch. Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur. The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby - not even close!”
(Watch The Gr.1 Kentucky Derby Race Replay)
All trainer Mark Casse wanted after the controversy-marred Kentucky Derby was a fair shot for his powerful bay colt, War of Will, to show what he could do.
That chance came Saturday in the 144th Preakness Stakes, in which War of Will, ridden masterfully by 24-year-old jockey Tyler Gaffalione, surged with steady determination to an impressive victory in a 13-entrant field that was low on proven contenders.
Even the Preakness had its share of weirdness with a runaway horse who thankfully did not cause a catastrophe during the race itself. Bodexpress bucked out of the gate, tossing veteran jockey John Velazquez onto the track. Velazquez was uninjured, and the riderless Bodexpress galloped on, running the full 1 3/16 -mile distance before doubling back and finally being corralled by an outrider. The horse placed last but officially did not finish.
(Watch The Gr.1 Preakness Stakes’ Replay)
And finally, the “wrong horse” won the Belmont Stakes
Maek Casse’s War Of Will was the favourite. Tacitus was the favoured rival. It was supposed to be face-off. Instead, Casse’s other pupil, Sir Winston romped to victory in the Belmont with Bill Mott trained-Tacitus in second place, causing a shocking upset.
(Watch The Gr.1 Belmont Stakes’ Replay)
The surprise being is fitting end to a wild Triple Crown season in the US.