'He's back'; War of Will thrives in Pennsylvania Derby work

NYRA Press Office
August 25, 2019 03:13pm
Looking more like the horse that gave Canadian Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse his first American classic victory in the Preakness Stakes last spring, Gary Barber's War of Will sizzled through a half-mile breeze in 47.04 seconds over Saratoga's main track Sunday morning.
With regular rider Tyler Gaffalione aboard, it was the second work for War of Will since finishing a well-beaten fifth in the July 27 Jim Dandy (G2). The time was the fastest of 69 horses at the distance.
"He worked extremely good this morning," Casse said. "We were looking for 48 and he went in 47, but that was OK. Tyler was just amazed. The first thing Tyler said when he got back was, 'He's back.'"
Between the Preakness and Jim Dandy, War of Will ran ninth behind stablemate Sir Winston in the Belmont Stakes. War of Will returned from the Jim Dandy with a half-mile breeze in 50.54 August 17.
"I had this conversation with Gary this morning. I think War of Will thrives in the cooler weather," Casse said. "Just when it cooled off the last few days, he was like a monster. He was trying to buck off the rider yesterday, and he's very quiet. Some horses thrive in the cold.
"We changed a little bit. We put a rubber figure eight [bit] on him to keep his mouth shut," Casse added. "He opens his mouth pretty good, and today he had his mouth shut, which was better. The other thing we did was last week we went ahead and put glue-on shoes on him, because his feet have always been tender. I don't know if that helped. Maybe it was a combination of a few things."
War of Will is being pointed to a return in the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Saturday, June 21. 
"The one thing we know he likes, and I think it might have got him that day, he likes a tighter track. I know it ate him up in the Belmont," Casse said. "I could give him an excuse in the Belmont; I couldn't give him much of an excuse in the Jim Dandy. So, we're going to forget about it and move forward."


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