Kentucky Derby 2019 Daily: War of Will outside in Risen Star

February 11, 2019 09:40am
Kentucky Derby 2019 Daily: War of Will outside in Risen Star
Photo: Hodges Photography

Welcome to Horse Racing Nation’s Kentucky Derby Daily, which will each day leading up to the May 4 race at Churchill Downs detail all the news and notes related to contenders in one convenient space.

War of Will
is a deserving favorite for Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds off his four-length Lecomte Stakes (G3) win, but the son of War Front will have to overcome the outside post position in an overflow field of 14.


Trainer Mark Casse says the post position doesn’t change the game plan, as he expects War of Will to still be quick out of the gate and sit close to the pace in the season’s first major 2019 Kentucky Derby prep.


“He didn’t draw the best post, but honestly, I’d rather be outside than in,” he said. “It’d be nice to be a little closer in, but we’ll take it.”

The Risen Star offers Derby qualifying points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the first four finishers, essentially guaranteeing the winner a spot on the starting gate the first Saturday in May. War of Will currently has 10 points from his Lecomte win.


The colt tuned up for the Risen Star Saturday morning with a half-mile breeze at Fair Grounds. He was clocked in 47.20, the second fastest time of 136.


“I thought he worked really well and couldn’t have been more pleased with that,” Casse said Sunday. “He looked good this morning.”

RELATED: Risen Star Stakes odds and analysis


War of Will, out of the Irish-bred mare Visions of Clarity, by Sadler’s Wells, started his career on the turf, which his pedigree suggested he would like. Mark’s brother, Justin Casse, went to $298,550 to purchase the colt for Gary Barber at the 2018 Arqana May 2-Year-Old Breeze-Up Sale.

While the colt earned a Grade 1 placing on the turf, he found his best stride fifth time out when he broke his maiden over a sloppy main track at Churchill Downs. He was geared down for the five-length win and ran less than a fifth of a second slower than the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner, Signalman, that night.


In only his second start, War of Will lost Woodbine’s Summer (G1) by less than a length, then ran fourth in Keeneland’s Bourbon (G3), beaten only three-quarters of a length. He ran fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf before switching to the main track.


“He’s a talented horse and he does things very well,” Casse said. “He does them easy.”

Big weekend for emerging contenders

A Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) winner has never gone on to prevail the first Saturday in May, and perhaps Well Defined will prove history wrong coming out of Saturday's race at Tampa Bay Downs. Regardless, that doesn’t mean this weekend’s results couldn’t have an impact moving forward.

Here’s a trio of names to know — and keep in mind we’re publishing before Coliseum’s run at the San Vicente Stakes (G2).

1. Dream Maker, another from the Casse barn, earned an 89 Beyer speed Figure in his 3-year-old debut, flying to a 1 1/16-mile allowance win on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

 Recap/replay of Dream Maker’s win

2. Global Campaign, the half-brother of Bolt d’Oro, will also hit the Derby trail after an easy allowance win at Gulfstream Park, where he won by 2 1/4 lengths over Grade 1-placed Standard Deviation.

 Recap/replay of Global Campaign’s win

3. Haikal, a sibling of Takaful, might not want all of 1 1/4 miles. But he could impact the Derby trail beginning with the March 9 Gotham Stakes (G3) exiting a victory in Aqueduct’s Jimmy Winkfield Stakes.

 Recap/replay of Haikal’s win 

In case you missed it…

Saturday’s Derby Daily report updated a pair of Grade 2 winners trained by Kenny McPeek. Signalman and Harvey Wallbanger should stay separated until the first Saturday in May.


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Horse Racing Nation's Kentucky Derby daily blog counts down to the May 4, 2019, race at Churchill Downs with a once-a-day update on all things Derby. Get the latest news and chatter, workout reports and a look at fields for upcoming preps all in once place.

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