Weekend King Racing



preakness stakes

Preakness 144 Selections and Race Preview


1. War of Will Mark Casse Tyler Gaffalione 4-1
2. Bourbon War Mark Hennig Irad Ortiz Jr. 12-1
3. Warrior’s Charge Brad Cox Javier Castellano 12-1
4. Improbable Bob Baffert Mike Smith 5-2
5. Owendale Brad Cox Florent Geroux 10-1
6. Market King D. Wayne Lukas Jon Court 30-1
7. Alwaysmining Kelly Rubley Daniel Centeno 8-1
8. Signalman Ken McPeek Brian Hernandez Jr. 30-1
9. Bodexpress Gustavo Delgado John Velazquez 20-1
10. Everfast Dale Romans Joel Rosario 50-1
11. Laughing Fox Steve Asmussen Ricardo Santana Jr. 20-1
12. Anothertwistafate Blaine Wright Jose Ortiz 6-1
13. Win Win Win Michael Trombetta Julian Pimentel 15-1

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1. (1) WAR OF WILL





2019 “Grand Slams” International Horse Racing Dates, Champions & Replays




Pegasus World Cup


When: January 26
Where: Gulfstream Park, Florida, US
What: Formerly the richest race in the world, with a purse of $12 million for its inaugural running in 2017, increased to $16M in 2018. ​It’s a 1 1⁄8-mile (9 furlongs) race on dirt and is open to horses four years old and up.
For the 2019 edition, the format was revamped, with a purse of $9M for the original race and $7M available for a turf equivalent.

2019 winner: CITY OF LIGHT

Cheltenham Festival


When: March 12-15
Where: Cheltenham, UK
What: The world’s most celebrated jump meeting is a four-day feast of racing and revelry attracting huge crowds of Irish and British punters to the attractive track in the Cotswolds region of Gloucestershire. The festival’s showpiece is the coveted Cheltenham Gold Cup, a three-mile marathon over 22 fences. Last year’s winner was Native River.

2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner: AL BOUM PHOTO

When: March 30
Where: Meydan, Dubai
What: Billed as the world’s richest day of racing, the lucrative event holds a special place in the Dubai racing calendar and ends the United Arab Emirates racing season. The race is run on dirt over 2,000 meters (about 10 furlongs). Godolphin’s Thunder Snow is the reigning champion.

2019 winner: THUNDER SNOW

When: April 6 & April 13
Where: Sydney, AUS
What: The Championships was inaugurated in 2014 as a “Grand Finals” concept to feature and showcase the very best of Australian racing as the jewel in the crown of Sydney’s Autumn Carnival. Held on the first and second Saturday of April each year, The Championships’ twelve races will be hotly contested to determine champion status over different age groups and distances. With a total of $21 million prize money on offer, the stage is set for two days of exciting and highly competitive racing. The feature race of the two days of racing, the “Grand Final” in the AUD$4,500,000 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

2019 Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner: WINX

When: April 6
Where: Aintree, UK
What: Perhaps the most famous horse race in the world and an icon of the British sporting calendar. First, run in 1839, the epic race is best known for its huge jumps such as Becher’s Brook, Valentine’s and The Chair and is a four-mile slog over two laps of the famous Liverpool course. It’s the race that transcends racing, with generations of people taking a once-a-year interest in the sport of kings. Last year’s winner was Tiger Roll.

2019 winner: TIGER ROLL

When: May 4
Where: Churchill Downs, USA
What: The Kentucky Derby is one of the world’s most iconic races. The mile-and-a-quarter dash on dirt, dubbed “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” carries a first prize of $1.425 million. Last year’s champion was Triple Crown winner Justify.

2019 winner: COUNTRY HOUSE* (On Protest)

2000 Guineas


When: May 4
Where: Newmarket, UK
What: First run in 1809, the Group 1 race — the first Classic of the UK Flat season — is open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies and is run over one mile on turf. In theory, it is the first leg of the British Triple Crown, along with the Derby and St Leger, but the feat of winning all three has rarely been attempted in recent years. Saxon Warrior, trained by Aidan O’Brien, won last year’s race.

2019 winner: MAGNA GRECIA

When: May 5
Where: Newmarket, UK
What: Also held in Newmarket, the mile Classic for three-year-old fillies over turf has been staged since 1814. Billesdon Brook ran out the winner last time.

2019 winner: HERMOSA

When: May 18
Where: Baltimore, USA
What: As the middle leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness is a true test of perseverance. It traditionally comes just two weeks after the Kentucky Derby and all eyes are on the race to see whether a rare treble is still on the cards. Justify kept such hopes alive in 2018.

2019 winner: WAR OF WILL

Epsom Oaks


When: May 31
Where: Epsom, UK
What: The third UK Classic of the season and the second open to three-year-old fillies only. It’s been run over a distance of 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 6 yards on the grass of Epsom Downs since 1779. Forever Together, trained by Aidan O’Brien, won the latest edition.

2019 winner: ANAPURNA

Epsom Derby


When: June 1
Where: Epsom, UK
What: The Epsom Derby has long been regarded as the richest and most prestigious Flat race in the British racing calendar. Run over a mile-and-a-half, it carries a prize fund of at least $1.9 million, with the winner claiming just north of $1 million. The reigning champion is Masar.

2019 winner: ANTHONY VAN DYCK

Belmont Stakes


When: June 8
Where: Belmont Park, USA
What: The lucrative horse race is open to three-year-olds and is the third and final leg of the famous Triple Crown. It has crowned a plethora of champions since its inauguration in 1853 — with Justify completing the treble in 2018.

2019 winner: Sir Winston

Royal Ascot


When: June 18-22
Where: Ascot, UK
What: With eight Group 1 races and an audience with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Ascot is the highlight of the British racing calendar. Each day begins with the pageantry of the horse-drawn royal procession in front of grandstands packed with the top hats, tails and high fashion. The highlight of the festival is the prestigious Gold Cup, won by Stradivarius in 2018.

2019 Ascot Gold Cup winner: Stradivarius

Irish Derby

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When: June 29
Where: The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
What: Ireland’s equivalent of The Derby, held three weeks later. Open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies, it is run over a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs on turf. Latrobe won the event in 2018.

2019 winner: SOVEREIGN

King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes


When: July 27
Where: Ascot, UK
What: Britain’s most prestigious open-age Flat race, the “King George,” is run over a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs. The iconic event has been won by some of racing’s biggest stars over the years. Sir Michael Stoute trained Poet’s Word won last year’s race, making Stoute the race’s most successful trainer with six wins.

2019 winner:

2018 winner: POET’S WORD

St. Leger

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When: September 14
Where: Doncaster, UK
What: The oldest of Britain’s five classics, dating back to 1776. The race for three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies is run over a distance of 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 115 yards. Jockey Ryan Moore won a consecutive title on board Kew Gardens in 2018.

2019 winner:

2018 winner: KEW GARDENS

When: October 6
Where: Longchamp, Paris, France
What: The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is a mile-and-a-half test of speed and stamina for three-year-olds and above, with a prize purse of $5.6M. The “Arc” has been held at leafy Longchamp for more than 150 years — barring a recent sojourn at Chantilly while it underwent a major redevelopment. Legendary jockey Frankie Dettori holds the record for most race wins, securing his sixth on defending champion Enable in 2018.

2019 winner:

2018 winner: ENABLE

When: October 12
Where: Sydney, Australia
What: Run over six furlongs, The Everest brings the world’s top sprinters together for the richest turf race in the world. The race’s prize pot is set to rise to $14 million in 2019 and $15 million in 2020. Redzel has clinched back-to-back titles since its inauguration in 2017.

2019 winner:

2018 winner: REDZEL

British Champions Day


When: October 19
Where: Ascot, UK
What: The conclusion of the British Flat racing season and the richest purse on the calendar with more than $5.4 million in prize money across six races. The legendary Frankel ran his last race here in 2012 with a 14th straight win in the Champion Stakes.

2019 Champions Stakes winner:

2018 Champions Stakes winner: CRACKSMAN

When: November 1-2
Where: Churchill Downs, Kentucky, USA
What: The Breeders’ Cup is a celebration of the very best thoroughbreds and pits US horses against the cream from the rest of the world. The highlight is the Breeders’ Cup Classic, considered the unofficial fourth leg of the Triple Crown, which is often a big factor in deciding Horse of the Year. The mile-and-a-quarter dash on dirt has been in existence since 1984, and the latest edition was won by the aptly named Accelerate. The festival also involves the Breeders’ Cup Turf — a showpiece for turf horses, carrying a prize fund of $4 million with winning connections earning $2.2 million.

2019 Breeder’s Cup Classic winner:

2018 Breeder’s Cup Classic winner: ACCELERATE

Melbourne Cup

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When: November 5
Where: Flemington, Australia
What: Having been overtaken as the country’s richest race, the Melbourne Cup is still the “race that stops a nation.” It’s been a highlight of Australia’s social and sporting calendar since 1861. Cross Counter was the 2018 winner.

2019 winner:

2018 winner: CROSS COUNTER

Japan Cup


When: November 24
Where: Tokyo, Japan
What: Japan’s richest race is held every year at Tokyo Racecourse, with the world’s best three-year-olds and above descending on the country’s capital. Home-grown talent has flourished at the event, with every winning trainer and owner coming from Japan since 2008. Almond Eye is the reigning champion.

2019 winner:

2018 winner: ALMOND EYE

Hong Kong International Races


When: December 8
Where: Sha Tin, Hong Kong
What: It’s one of the highlights of the racing calendar, a fan favourite for decades with $12 million at stake. World class jockeys and thoroughbreds do battle over four Group 1 races on the turf of the Sha Tin Racecourse amid the skyscrapers of downtown Hong Kong. The bumper prize money is spread across the Hong Kong Sprint, the Hong Kong Vase, the Hong Kong Mile and the showpiece Hong Kong Cup.

2019 Hong Kong Cup winner:

2018 Hong Kong Cup winner: GLORIOUS FOREVER



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International Federation of HorseRacing




2019 World’s Best Race Horse Award:

2018 Winner(s): Winx & Cracksman (Tie)


2019 World’s Best Jockey Award:

2018 Winner: Frankie Dettori



2019 World’s Best Horse Race Award:

2018 Winner: Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe


Baffert trains American Pharoah his way for Triple Crown try

Dan Wolken, USA TODAY Sports

 ELMONT, N.Y. – When Triple Crown attempts go awry, there is always a culprit. From Spectacular Bid stepping on a safety pin the morning of the 1979 Belmont Stakes to Stewart Elliott pushing the button too soon on Smarty Jones in 2004 to California Chrome owner Steve Coburn fuming over fresh horses that waited for the final leg, excuses are on a 36-year undefeated streak here.

As the world prepares for American Pharoah’s attempt to become horse racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner on Saturday, trainer Bob Baffert knows the odds are against him. But he also knows he has the best 3-year old in training and a horse that has shown good signs physically since his dominating, 7-length victory in the May 16 Preakness.

“It’s about the horse now,” Baffert said. “Is he good enough to do it? It always happens to me when I go up (to New York). I start feeling pressure because I don’t want to let those fans down. Every year, people say, ‘This is the one.’ So hopefully, maybe this is the one. We don’t know. All indications show me he’s doing well.”

By bringing Baffert back to the Kentucky Derby winners circle for the first time in 13 years and giving owner Ahmed Zayat his first classic after several near-misses, American Pharoah has already made it a memorable spring for his connections. Baffert has been adamant that the Triple Crown, while it would be nice to win for the history books and the potential boost for the sport, was never the priority.

“I really feel like it’s a different vibe this year with this horse,” Baffert said. “It’s been so long and I just feel like I’ve probably mellowed out a little bit more.”

Maybe that’s past heartbreak talking. Touch Gold caught Baffert’s Silver Charm in deep stretch of the 1997 Belmont and Victory Gallop got Real Quiet by the bob of a head in 1998. Baffert’s other Triple Crown attempt with War Emblem in 2002 was pretty much over when he stumbled out of the gate.

Those experiences, however, have given Baffert a good grasp of what to expect this week and how to get American Pharoah ready to run 1½ miles, a distance few modern Thoroughbreds are bred for or trained to handle.

After a light week following the Preakness, American Pharoah has been based at Churchill Downs and will ship to Belmont on Tuesday. Aside from his regular morning gallops, American Pharoah breezed a half-mile in :48 on May 26 and is scheduled to have his final serious workout Monday morning.

Billy Turner, who trained 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, said he was surprised Baffert didn’t bring American Pharoah to New York earlier to get used to the surroundings and the unique 1½-mile Belmont oval with its sweeping turns.

“It does give you an edge if you’ve trained over it,” Turner said. “Not only (having) a work over the track, but just galloping around a big oval, it’s different. When you’re used to going around mile ovals, it makes a big, big difference for the horse and the rider.”

Baffert, however, said he doesn’t think the racing surface will matter and that shipping in from Churchill Downs the week of the race – something he’s done with success at Belmont in other big races – keeps him in his “comfort zone.”

“Every trainer has their own philosophy and I feel more confident doing that than if I was up there sitting around,” Baffert said. “I know what I’m dealing with and what to expect so it makes it much easier to go through this. All my staff, we’ve been through it, so we just treat it like it would be a Breeders’ Cup or anything else, we just stick to the game plan and hope there’s no hiccups.”

Should American Pharoah lose Saturday, of course, the decision not to train over the Belmont track will be a convenient scapegoat. After 13 near-misses since Affirmed, the blame game will pretty much be an annual tradition – until someone breaks the streak.

“I don’t think it matters for American Pharoah,” said Belmont-based trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, whose Frosted finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby and immediately pointed to the Belmont. “He’s a very, very nice horse. He could probably run down the street over broken glass or over Belmont Park. I don’t think working over the track is going to make him like it, but I don’t think it’s a track horses dislike. It’s more the distance and the race shape because nobody’s run 1½ miles and you don’t know if any of us want to run that far.”



“Super horse” American Pharoah only needs to turn up the Belmont Park fit and healthy on June the 6th for the Belmont Stakes, to etch his name into racing immortality as the 12th horse to complete the American Triple Crown and first since Affirmed did it 37 long years ago. 

American Pharoah, the son of Pioneerof The Nile out of Littleprincess , had shown super star qualities prior to his racetrack debut, but the bubble burst in his first race track appearance when American Pharoah making his debut in a maiden race over six and a half furlongs on the Polytrack surface at Del Mar Racetrack on August 9. Ridden by Martin Garcia, he started as the 7-5 favorite against eight opponents. He became unsettled before the race and, after running in second place until the top of the straight, he faded to finish fifth behind Om, Iron Fist, One Lucky Dane, and Calculator, more than nine lengths behind the winner. 

He ran in blinkers that day, which appeared to unnerve him, as did the commotion in the saddling paddock. But master trainer Bob Baffert isn’t one of Americas best trainers for nothing and he proceeded to put his genius to full work. 

Just like “grandma’s home remedy” cotton wool was used by Baffert to rectify American Pharoah’s issues. The colt who gets very anxious and unsettled in front of crowds and around other horses was settled by Baffert placing cotton wool in his ears around crowds & horses to block out the noise & since Baffert has done that the juggernaut that is American Pharoah has been unstoppable winning all subsequent 6 race starts.

Despite his debut defeat, American Pharoah was moved up to Grade I class for the Del Mar Futurity over seven furlongs on September 4. He was ridden by Victor Espinoza for the first time and started as the 3.2-1 second favorite behind Best Pal Stakes winner Skyway, with Calculator and Iron Fist also in the field. American Pharoah took the lead from the start and went clear in the straight to win by four and three quarter lengths from Calculator, with a gap of more than eight lengths back to Iron Fist in third. Commenting on the colt’s improvement, 

Baffert said, “We took the blinkers off, put cotton in his ears and schooled him a lot. He trained well, we decided he was ready and we put him in there. Today, he behaved himself and showed what he could do. He did what we thought he’d do the first time.”

On September 27, American Pharoah was made the 1-2 favorite for the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes over eight and a half furlongs at Santa Anita Park. As in his previous race, he was immediately sent to the front by Espinoza and stayed there, pulling away from his rivals in the straight to win by three and a quarter lengths over Calculator, with Texas Red a length and a half away in third. After the race, Espinoza said, “All the way he was on a high cruising speed. He has such a long stride. He moves really nice and is light on his feet.” 

Baffert commented, “I can’t believe his demeanor, how he has changed since his first out. He’s so professional. He’s really mentally there.”

American Pharoah was aimed at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on November 1 but was scratched from the race after sustaining a “deep bruise” to his left front foot in a workout on October 27.

In the Eclipse Awards for 2014, American Pharoah was voted American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse, beating Texas Red by 126 votes to 111.

Five and a half months after his last start, American Pharoah began his second season in the Grade II Rebel Stakes on a sloppy track at Oaklawn Park on March 14. He carried top weight of 119 pounds and started as the 2-5 favorite against six opponents, headed by the Todd Pletcher-trained Madefromlucky. The colt led from the start and drew away in the closing stages to win by six and a quarter lengths. Espinoza called the winner “an amazing horse”, while Baffert was satisfied with the run, especially as the colt returned with a twisted shoe which would have hampered his progress. Four weeks later at the same track, American Pharoah started as the odds-on favorite against seven opponents in the Grade I Arkansas Derby. After racing in second place behind outsider Bridget’s Big Luvy, he took the lead a quarter of a mile from the finish and steadily increased his advantage to win by eight lengths from Southwest Stakes winner Far Right. 

Baffert commented, “He’s matured substantially. He’s a good horse and he keeps moving forward. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but Dortmund [also trained by Baffert] is another one who we don’t yet know how good he is. We’ve got a one-two punch and that’s a good position to be in.” 

After the race, Ron Moquett, the trainer of runner-up Far Right, described American Pharoah as “a superhorse”.

On May 2, American Pharoah started as the 2.9-1 favorite in an eighteen-runner field for the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. His opponents included Dortmund, winner of the Santa Anita Derby; Carpe Diem, who won the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes and Blue Grass Stakes; Firing Line, winner of the Sunland Derby; Wood Memorial winner Frosted; Florida Derby winner Materiality; international entry Mubtaahij, who earned his way to Kentucky with a win in the UAE Derby; and Upstart, winner of the Holy Bull Stakes. The crowd surrounding the horse during the walk-over from the barns to the paddock upset American Pharoah, and several grooms were required to keep him under control. He continued to misbehave until he was loaded into the starting gate, creating worry amongst his connections that he was using up energy he needed for the race.
Espinoza positioned the colt in third place early in the race as Dortmund took the lead, followed closely by Firing Line. The three remained ahead of the pack throughout the race, and broke clear of their rivals entering the straight with American Pharoah making a forward move on the outside. The favorite took the lead entering the final furlong and won by a length from Firing Line and Dortmund, with Frosted finishing strongly in fourth. Espinoza, who won the race for the third time, said, “I feel like the luckiest Mexican on earth. He has been a special horse since the first time I rode him. He has a lot of talent and is an unbelievable horse. Turning for home I started riding a little bit harder. At the eighth pole I just couldn’t put that other horse away, but he got it done.”

Two weeks after winning the Kentucky Derby, American Pharoah entered the second leg of the Triple Crown, the 2015 Preakness Stakes, run over nine and a half furlongs at Pimlico Race Course. 

Despite an unfavorable inside draw of the number one post position, he was installed as the morning line favorite ahead of Firing Line and Dortmund. No horse had won the Preakness starting from the rail since 1994. Immediately prior to start time, the weather changed to a heavy downpour with thunder. The last time the Preakness had been run on a sloppy track was in 1983, and American Pharoah was the only horse in the field to have previously won under similar conditions, having triumphed at the Rebel Stakes running in rain and mud.
American Pharoah had the lead within the first quarter-mile and was challenged by Mr. Z early on, but held the lead on the inside throughout the race. He was challenged by Dortmund and then Divining Rod, but American Pharoah broke from the pack in the homestretch and won by seven lengths, as Tale of Verve made a strong rally to overtake Divining Rod to place. Firing Line slipped badly at the start and was eased in the stretch. The winning time was 1:58.45. The margin of victory was tied for the sixth-largest in Preakness history. 

Baffert commented, “When I saw those ears go up [on the backside of the track], I thought, ‘Oh, yeah. Oh yeah.’ “The win by American Pharoah set up an attempt for the Triple Crown for the second straight year. It was also the second straight year that Espinoza had won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and the jockey’s third time winning both races. Espinoza did not even pull his whip at all in the Preakness Stakes. For trainer Baffert, it was the fourth time in 19 years that he won the first two Triple Crown races.

After the Preakness Stakes win it was announced that global breeding giant Coolmore had bought the rights to stand American Pharoah at their Ashford Park stud. They paid a fee which is unknown, but reportedly it was a minimum $20million deal. 

American Pharoah is a horse of a lifetime and I’m very confident he will become the 12th American Triple Crown winner and the first in nearly 4 decades. The 2400m shouldn’t be any concern and Baffert after 4 misses in the Belmont when looking for a triple crown would have learnt from the past and have him cherry-ripe to win the crown.

A win would not only be huge for American racing but also International racing.


(He’s currently a $2.14 race favourite on Betfair to complete the Triple Crown)


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