War Of Will ‘Really Thriving’ In Preparation For Pennsylvania Derby

by | 09.01.2019 | 3:11pm
War of Will at Belmont Park

Trainer Mark Casse breezed Grade 1 winners War of Will and Got Stormy over Woodward weekend at Saratoga in preparation for upcoming Grade 1 starts out of town.

Gary Barber's War of Will, a four-time winner with more than $1.5 million in purse earnings, captured the Grade 1 Preakness in May ahead of an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. Last out, in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy presented by NYRA Bets, the War Front bay set the early pace en route to a fifth-place finish.

Casse decided to let War of Will bypass the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers and instead pointed the colt to the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby on September 21 at Parx, which could be a potential re-match with multiple Grade 1-winner Maximum Security.

On Sunday morning, War of Will breezed five furlongs in 59.55 seconds on the Saratoga main.

“The work was perfect,” said Casse. “I wanted him to do a little something today. We're three weeks out from the Pennsylvania Derby, so I wanted a good work and a good gallop out. I got him galloping out a mile in 1:40 and still not wanting to pull up. So, it was really good.”

Casse said he feels War of Will is rounding back into top form as the cooler fall weather arrives.

“He's been doing a lot of bucking and kicking recently which he hadn't been for a while,” said Casse. “I don't know if his energy levels are up or if it's the crisp morning air, but he definitely enjoys this cooler weather. He seems to be really thriving right now.”

The Canadian Hall of Fame conditioner said a start in the Breeders' Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita Park is still in play if all goes well in Pennsylvania.

“We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but a good performance in the Pennsylvania Derby would have us looking at the Breeders' Cup,” said Casse. “But, we have to get past this next one first.”

On August 10, Gary Barber and Southern Equine Stable's Got Stormy became the first filly to win the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave, in its 35th running, covering one mile over the firm inner turf in a track record 1:32 flat.

The 4-year-old Get Stormy chestnut earned a career-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure in her Fourstardave score, which was her seventh win in 15 career starts.

Got Stormy breezed five furlongs in 1:00.38 on Saturday on the Oklahoma training turf in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile, a Breeders' Cup “Win and You're In” event on September 14.

“She worked good. We had Sammy Jimenez breeze her,” said Casse. “I told Sammy to let her go along nice and cluck to her at the top of the lane. He clucked to her and she came home the last quarter in 23 flat. She has an amazing stride.”

Got Stormy won four of her nine sophomore starts, including victories in the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen at Woodbine, the Penn Oaks, and the Wild Applause at Belmont. However, the talented filly has found a new level this year with her last three starts, including a four-length score in the De La Rose, boasting triple-digit Beyers.

“She's just grown up and got confident,” said Casse. “We've had a lot of luck with our 3-year-olds giving them a break and letting them come back at four. Some of them mature and she's gone from a teenager to a grown up. She's bigger and stronger.”

Casse said Got Stormy's Ontario Colleen win on the Woodbine turf, along with past Woodbine Mile successes with Tepin [2016] and World Approval [2017], give him confidence as the filly looks to beat the boys once more.

“When we decided to go to the Woodbine Mile, it was nice that she's already had a race over the turf there,” said Casse. “She was extremely impressive on the turf at Woodbine and that, along with the success we've had going on to the Breeders' Cup from Woodbine, was on my mind. We already know she loves it there. My only fear is if we get a lot of rain. She's not overly crazy about soft turf.”

Casse also reported that Tracy Farmer's Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston could be back to the races in New York later this year.

“Sir Winston is back in full training. My plan is to bring him back to Belmont and try to get a race in New York with him towards the latter part of the year,” said Casse.

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