Looking more like the horse that gave Canadian Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse his first American Classic victory in the Grade 1 Preakness this 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 Grade 2 Jim Dandy presented by NYRA Bets July 27. 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 Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets June 8. 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,” he 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, Sept. 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.”
Barber and Southern Equine Stable's 4-year-old filly Got Stormy returned to the work tab Sunday for the first time since defeating males for her first Grade 1 victory in the Fourstardave Handicap on August 10. It was her second win in a week this summer at Saratoga following the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose on August 3.
Headed for the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile on September 14, Got Stormy was joined on the Oklahoma training track turf course by Live Oak Plantation's homebred Grade 2 winner March to the Arch, being pointed to the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap on Labor Day, September 2, Closing Day of the Saratoga meet.
Got Stormy was timed in 50.23 seconds for a half-mile over the firm going, ranking 12th of 31 horses, while March to the Arch went the same distance in 50.55.
“They both went really nice. We weren't looking for anything special,” Casse said. “[Got Stormy] worked super. We're still on schedule for the Woodbine Mile. She's been unbelievable. I could have run her the next week. She is just thriving right now. I don't know if it's Saratoga or what it is, but she's raring and ready to go.”
Following a stylish maiden victory from Tap It To Win, trainer Mark Casse said the talented Tapit gray could race back in either the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne on October 5 at Belmont Park or the Grade 1, $500,000 Claiborne Breeders Futurity on the same day at Keeneland.
Owned by Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Planation, Tapit It To Win broke his maiden at second asking over the Saratoga main track after a runner-up effort at Woodbine in July.
Tapit It To Win scored by 3 1/2 lengths in his maiden victory, where he earned an 86 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He's a pretty good horse. I think we have two options: the Champagne or get the two-turn experience in the Breeders Futurity and that's something I'll have to discuss with Mrs. Weber,” Casse said. “His last work out of the gate was great. It surprised me how fast he ran, but it didn't surprise me that he won.”
A Florida homebred, Tap It To Win is out of the three-time stakes winning Medaglia d'Oro broodmare Onepointhreekarats, who was bought for $1.3 million as a yearling.
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