After scratching out of a minor Gulfstream Park stakes race, War of Will rerouted to Monday's Grade 1, $300,000 Shoemaker Mile on Memorial Day at Santa Anita Park. As the reigning Preakness Stakes winner, he is a star entry of an 11-horse field.
But the same concerns about betting War of Will at a lower level in a return to turf apply to this spot.
Back in August of 2018, War of Will faded to third in his career debut on the lawn. He followed that effort up with a close second in the Summer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine, losing by only ¾ of a length to Fog of War. Then he faded to fourth in the Bourbon Stakes (G3) at Keeneland after setting an uncontested lead.
In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, War of Will ran an even fifth. When it came time to run in the stretch, he failed to accelerate.
War of Will switched to dirt in his 3-year-old season and found success by capturing the Lecomte Stakes (G3), Risen Star Stakes (G2) and Preakness. A turf win, however, remains off the resume, and those main track performances don't evidence his capability to beat this group exiting a 205-day layoff.
Also notable is trainer Mark Casse's recent record at Santa Anita. According to TimeformUS, he is 0-for-7 there in the past year. TimeformUS rates him 31 out of 100 for the track.
While War of Will could handle turf better than he did as a 2-year-old and win off the bench, there is little upside to betting a horse in this scenario who will be taking money at 4-1 on the morning line
A better option is Without Parole, another 4-1 shot who's making his first start since a disappointing 11th-place finish in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1).
Cross that race out because of the distance. At one mile, Without Parole is a contender at the Grade 1 level.
For example, last fall he closed for a strong third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, losing by 2 ¾ lengths off a lengthy layoff of his own. In 2018, Without Parole also won the one-mile St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot before going off form later in the year.
Under trainer Chad Brown, Without Parole’s Breeders’ Cup effort is promising enough to believe he can capture a Grade 1 race in the U.S. Cutting back a one-mile race, he is the top choice here.
Brown also starts Raging Bull, the tepid 7-2 morning line favorite who lost all five of his starts as a 4-year-old last season after shipping to win Del Mar's Hollywood Derby (G1) in late 2018. Despite the losing streak, he deserves a spot on tickets as a horse who always fires a good race against classy turf runners.
His most recent start came in the Woodbine Mile (G1) last September, when he experienced some traffic problems en route to a fourth-place finish. He also finished runner-up in Saratoga's Fourstardave (G1) to Got Stormy, third in Belmont Park's Manhattan Stakes (G1) and fourth in both the Turf Classic (G1) and Maker's 46 Mile (G1) in Kentucky.
In the Manhattan and Turf Classic, Raging Bull lost to the eventual Horse of the Year and Brown stablemate Bricks and Mortar. He still turned in efforts that might win here if repeated.
Raging Bull gets one more chance to prove himself.
For a longshot, Blitzkrieg is interesting. Overseas, he gave good efforts in the Dubai Sprint and Meydan Sprint (G2), finishing second and third in those races. Bettors might get scared off by his dismal 11th-place finish in the Burj Nahaar, a bonus if you like him here.
Blitzkrieg’s North American form took a nice upswing after dipping to the $25,000 claiming level for trainer Richard Mandella. He was claimed by Doug O’Neill and became a different gelding.
Under O’Neill, Blitzkrieg won three straight races, including the San Francisco Mile (G3) at Golden Gate Fields by a clear 1 ½ lengths over River Boyne, who has since become a Grade 1 winner. He also finished a good fourth in the Joe Hernandez Stakes (G2) earlier this year.
Blitzkrieg is 20-1 on the morning line. Those are great odds on a horse that has always fired in his turf races under O’Neill. Expect a better performance.
Without Parole, Raging Bull and Blitzkrieg are three best alternatives to War of Will. While War of Will could win, he is a popular horse who casual bettors will flock to because of his Preakness win. Watch how he returns and handles turf against this level before trusting him in a Grade 1 turf race.
|Rank||Silks||Horse / Sire||Rating||Trainer / Jockey||Last Start||Status|
I. Ortiz, Jr.
J. Valdivia, Jr.
D. Van Dyke