Sir Winston ’50-50’ to run; War of Will campaigning on turf

January 19, 2020 10:39am

Trainer Mark Casse, who won two legs of the 2019 Triple Crown series with War of Will (Preakness) and Sir Winston (Belmont), has both back in training to run as older horses.

But speaking this weekend on the Horse Racing Radio Network’s Equine Forum, Casse said there could be a hitch in impending race plans for Sir Winston, who worked five furlongs Thursday over Belmont Park’s training track toward Saturday’s Jazil Stakes.

“He breezed extremely well. We were very happy with him,” Casse said on Equine Forum. “The only issue: He pulled the shoe off during the work, and then he stepped on it. He’s been a little tender on it.”

Casse said Jamie Begg, his New York-based assistant, and his team were soaking the foot and gauging progress. He termed the 4-year-old son of Awesome Again as 50-50 to make the Jazil, a $100,000 race at 1 1/8 miles.

It would mark the second start off the bench for Sir Winston, who finished last over yielding turf in Fair Grounds’ Dec. 28 Woodchopper Stakes but will get back to the main track. Goals of leaping to a race such as the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) remain.

“He grew up a lot during his time off,” Casse said of Sir Winston, a homebred for owner Tracy Farmer. “He’s a big, handsome horse now and training well, so I expect big things out of him. We’ll see what happens here with his foot.”

Meanwhile, Gary Barber’s War of Will, a 4-year-old son of War Front, is back to the track at Casse’s training center in Ocala, Fla., having freshened up after a ninth-place finish most recently in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

War of Will didn’t win again after the Preakness but had previously positioned himself near the top of the division with victories in Fair Grounds’ Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star (G2). In designing War of Will’s next campaign, Casse's returning to the colt’s 2-year-old roots.

“He’s doing well,” Casse said. “I watched him train (Friday) morning before I drove down to Miami. He looks great. He’s grown up some. Right now, our feeling is that he’s a Grade 1 winner on the dirt. We’re going to try to make him a Grade 1 winner this year on the grass. That’s where we’ll be focusing, probably around March or April.”

Being by a primarily turf sire and out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, War of Will debuted on the lawn and jumped right into stakes as a maiden. He was the runner-up in Woodbine’s Summer Stakes (G1) on the green and competed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf before breaking through in an off-the-turf event at Churchill Downs. That led to his run along the Kentucky Derby trail over the main track.

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