Gary Barber's Grade 1 Preakness winner War of Will breezed in company with John C. Oxley's Strike Silver at 5:45 a.m. on Saturday as the sun rose over the Saratoga main track.
With Tyler Gaffalione in the irons, War of Will, breezing outside of Strike Silver, overtook his stablemate down the lane and galloped out strong. The horse known as 'WOW' covered five furlongs in 1:00.43 with Strike Silver, stopping the clock in 1:00.64.
Trainer Mark Casse said he was pleased with both horses, with War of Will targeting the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday, July 27 and Strike Silver pointed to the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam on July 28, both at Saratoga Race Course.
“He always amazes me how effortlessly he does things,” said Casse of War of Will. “We wanted to let him gallop out some and I didn't with the other horse, so the other horse didn't gallop out. I wanted to put a little air into him [War of Will]. He looks great.”
Strike Silver won the Indian Summer at Keeneland in October and last out finished fourth in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day, June 8.
“Strike Silver is a pretty good horse. We wanted a good work out of both horses because he's going to run in the Amsterdam,” said Casse.
War of Will contested all three legs of the Triple Crown, placing a troubled seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby ahead of his Preakness coup. Last out, War of Will finished ninth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, which was won by stablemate Sir Winston.
Casse said War of Will is blossoming as he prepares for a summer campaign expected to include the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 24.
“He's put on about 100 pounds and his color is really good. He doesn't look like a horse that has been through the wars of the Triple Crown,” said Casse. “As long as he comes out of this happy and healthy and shows good energy, I think the Jim Dandy makes sense.”
Tracy Farmer's Sir Winston, who thrived at Belmont with a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Peter Pan before his Classic score in the Belmont Stakes, is enjoying some down time at Casse's farm in Ocala while recovering from an ankle injury.
Casse said he is hopeful the Awesome Again chestnut will return to action this year.
“He hurt his ankle after the Belmont. It was just a minor injury. He's in Ocala and doing great. I was just with him a couple days ago. I'm hoping to get another start in him at the end of the year. He'll start back training in about two weeks,” said Casse.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott was a busy man one day following an impressive maiden victory on Friday's card with 2-year-old filly Vast, for owners and breeders Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider.
On Saturday morning, Mott sent multiple graded stakes winners Tacitus and Yoshida in tandem to breeze over the Oklahoma training track.
Working in company, Tacitus completed the five-furlong breeze in 1:01 flat and Yoshida in 1:00.90.
Targeting a start in the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy presented by NYRA Bets, Tacitus posted his third breeze since finishing second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.
Mott said he was pleased with the work from the homebred son of Tapit for Juddmonte Farms.
“Real good work,” said Mott on horseback. “I thought they both went well. We just want to keep them happy, healthy and stay on their respective courses.”
Tacitus broke his maiden in his second start at Aqueduct Racetrack and emerged on the Kentucky Derby trail by winning the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in March in his next start. He secured the top spot on the Kentucky Derby qualifying points leaderboard with a victory in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial Presented by NYRA Bets at the Big A, and placed third in the Derby following the disqualification of Maximum Security.
Mott said Tacitus has kept his good form following the Belmont Stakes.
“He's pretty much about the same as we had him for the Belmont,” said Mott. “He was going good into that race and he's continued to do so.”
Yoshida, a multiple graded stakes winner in his own right for owners China Horse Club International, Winstar Farm, and Head of Plains Partners is looking to make his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on Saturday, August 3.
The 5-year-old Japanese bred son of Heart's Cry has yet to hit the board in three starts this year. Yoshida finished sixth in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational on January 26 at Gulfstream, the Group 1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse, and last out in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster at Churchill.
“He's continued to stay on course,” said Mott. “If we continue to be pleased with how he's doing we'll give him a shot in the Whitney.”
Vast, a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Sower and also to Mott's stable pony Round, won her debut by a half-length at odds of 12-1.
Mott said he was pleased with the daughter of multiple graded stakes winner Lea, who he also trained.
“You have to be pleased first time out of the box to have her run that way,” said Mott. “It's exciting and we're keeping it in the family with the victory also being from her brother to my stable pony.”
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