Gary Barber's Grade 1 Preakness-winner War of Will is now stabled with trainer Mark Casse's contingent in Saratoga and could potentially target the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on Saturday, July 27 at Saratoga Race Course.
War of Will, who ran ninth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 8, registered a four-furlong breeze in 49.40 seconds on the Churchill Downs main track on Sunday and is expected to work again this weekend before Casse said he will make a decision.
Casse also said the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 24 would be the long-term plan.
“He worked extremely well the other day at Churchill. The plan is to give him a couple of days here and then we'll put another breeze in,” Casse said. “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, including placing seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 4. Having already raced six times as a sophomore, including back-to-back wins in the Grade 3 Lecomte in January and the Grade 2 Risen Star in February at Fair Grounds, Casse said having some time following the “Test of the Champion” is beneficial. He also said the War Front colt would be kept on dirt despite having a pedigree that could suggest 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 saddle a pair of contenders in the Grade 3, $150,000 Forbidden Apple on Friday at the Spa, with Team Valor International's First Premio and Live Oak Plantation's March to the Arch.
March to the Arch rallied from ninth to win the Grade 2 Wise Dan 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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