'Happy, healthy' War of Will arrives at Saratoga with options

NYRA Press Office
July 05, 2019 09:07pm
Gary Barber's Preakness Stakes winner War of Will is now stabled with trainer Mark Casse's Saratoga contingent and could potentially target the  Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on July 27 in addition to the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 24.

War of Will, who ran ninth in the Belmont Stakes, presented by NYRA Bets, in his last start, registered a four-furlong breeze in 49.40 seconds on the Churchill Downs main track Sunday. He is expected to work again this weekend before Casse forms race plans.

"He worked extremely well the other day at Churchill," Casse said. "The plan is to give him a couple of days here and then we'll put another breeze in. Depending on how he breezes, we'll seriously look at the Jim Dandy."
War of Will ran in all three legs of the Triple Crown, also placing seventh in the Kentucky Derby. Having already raced six times as a sophomore, including back-to-back wins in the Lecomte Stakes (G3) in January and the Risen Star (G2) in February at Fair Grounds.

Casse said having some time following the Belmont is beneficial. He also said the War Front colt would be kept on dirt despite having a pedigree that suggests potential turf success.

"It would be interesting to see how he ran on the grass," Casse said. "But maybe he's just a better horse now. He's not going to get that opportunity anytime soon. He ran a lot of races in a short period of time. You could see where his weight wasn't right. He also fought a bit of a skin rash prior to the Belmont and afterwards, so it took us a little while to get back and get it cleared up.

"But I think he's a happy, healthy horse now."

War of Will, 4-1-1 with earnings of $1,491,569 in 11 career starts, would be making his first start at the Spa should he run in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy.

"We would run him in the Jim Dandy and the Travers would be the main goal," Casse said. 

Casse will also saddle a pair of contenders in the Grade 3, $150,000 Forbidden Apple on Friday at the Spa, with Team Valor International's First Premier
and Live Oak Plantation's March to the Arch.

March to the Arch rallied from ninth to win the Wise Dan (G2) by a neck over All Right on June 15 at Churchill, earning a personal-best 98 Beyer. 

The 4-year-old son of Arch drew post 5 and is 6-1 on the morning line.

"We have two good chances for the Forbidden Apple," Casse said. "March to the Arch had a little bit of a troubled trip in the last start and was able to overcome that."

First Premio was fifth in the Wise Dan off a troubled trip. The son of Pure Prize will be looking for his first graded stakes win in his sixth try, drawing post 2. He is 10-1 on the morning line.

"He just got hung out wide last time," Casse said. "I think he ran 70 feet further than everyone else, so that's significant. Hopefully, they both run well now. They're both training well."


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