War of Will, Sir Winston expected to race as older horses

June 15, 2019 12:18pm

The 2019 Triple Crown series will be remembered in large part for idiosyncrasies that produced, in a way, four different race winners given the controversial Kentucky disqualification of Maximum Security that led to Country House’s promotion.

Those two colts are now household names, and the Mark Casse trainees that followed to win the Preakness Stakes (War of Will) and Belmont Stakes (Sir Winston) did so as the Derby drama continued playing out.

“The good news is, I think both horses, as long as they’re happy and healthy, will aim for 4-year-old campaigns,” Casse said this week in an interview on KXnO’s Horse Racing Talk podcast.

War of Will is campaigned by the film executive Gary Barber, who maintains a large stable. This season he returned a valuable 3-year-old, the filly Wonder Gadot, to the races after she won two-thirds of Canada’s Triple Crown at age 3.

Sir Winston is a homebred for Tracy Farmer, a businessman who has campaigned horses for decades. His highest-earning horses, Albert the Great and Sun King, also both won graded stakes at age 3 and ran as older horses.

In the more immediate future, Casse is eyeing the Aug. 24 Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga as summer goals for his first spring classic winners. He nearly made it three Triple Crown series wins with Classic Empire nosed out in the 2017 Preakness.

“It’s something that we have, especially in the last five or six years, started gearing toward,” Casse said. “Mostly, everything we do is to prepare for the classics. I feel good, because I feel like our team is doing things right, and we’ve proven now to the world that given the right horse, we can do just as well as anyone else.”

Casse told Horse Racing Talk that Sir Winston, who prepped for the Belmont with a runner-up in the local Peter Pan Stakes (G3), “months ago” targeted the 1 1/2-mile Triple Crown finale.

“Everything had just kind of come into place,” the trainer said. “Everything was perfect.”

War of Will was caught up in Maximum Security’s Derby melee but turned around two weeks later to prevail in the Preakness. He didn’t fire in the Belmont, however, finishing ninth of 10.

“War of Will had a tough campaign. The more I analyze everything, I really don’t think that’s why he didn’t run better,” Casse said. “I just don’t think he handled the racetrack very well. It was a lot deeper. There’s no question the inside was the better place to be, and War of Will came out of his race really well.”

Saratoga’s July 27 Jim Dandy (G2) is an option for both Casse runners with War of Will back at his Keeneland base and Sir Winston freshening up in Ocala, Fla.

Monmouth Park also hosts the Haskell Invitational (G1) on July 20 with Maximum Security leading Sunday's local prep, the Pegasus Stakes.

“I wouldn’t go to Monmouth because I wouldn’t want to run against Maximum Security on what I would consider his home field,” Casse said. “If Maximum Security bows out of the picture, you could possibly see War of Will at the Haskell. With both horses, our goal would be the Travers.”


Sir Winston  |  War of Will  |   | 
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