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Wednesday’s Preakness Trackside Report: War of Will Steps It Up


War of Will | Joe Bianca

By Joe Bianca

It was a relatively quiet morning Wednesday at Pimlico, with most of Saturday’s GI Preakness S. contenders slated to arrive by van later in the day or Thursday morning, but Gary Barber’s War of Will (War Front) strutted his stuff over the main track with a spirited gallop after just jogging the oval Tuesday.

The sun shined brightly and temperatures steadily rose throughout the morning, a preview of the warmer weather forecasted for this week’s festivities, and War of Will appeared on the track with a pony at around 8:45, shortly after the renovation break. Walking from the clubhouse turn to the top of the stretch, the dark bay, who was the first Preakness horse to arrive on the grounds Tuesday, then turned around and broke off on his own to begin his gallop past the assembled media and tour groups on the apron.

Gradually picking it up around the turn and down the backside, the striking colt, who finished eighth before being elevated to seventh via disqualification in the GI Kentucky Derby, had a head of steam by the time he reentered the stretch. Getting pats of encouragement and a “good boy” or two from his exercise rider while well under control, the multiple graded stakes winner looked no worse for the wear from his rough Derby run.

Though he won’t get a rematch with Maximum Security (New Year’s Day), who he tangled legs with at one point in the Derby, the Mark Casse trainee looks poised to get some measure of revenge while taking advantage of a Preakness field lacking in star power. He likely will be either favored or second choice and figures to be forwardly placed again, a probability that was strengthened by his impressive on-the-muscle gallop Wednesday.

Arriving on track a few minutes before War of Will was longshot Bodexpress (Bodemeister), who was also affected by the Derby’s skirmish on the far turn and was placed 13th after steadying. The bay was second at long odds before that in the GI Florida Derby and is still a maiden, but looked well enough for trainer Gustavo Delgado. Going at a decidedly slower clip than War of Will, he nevertheless covered more ground than that one, circuiting the Pimlico oval several times before heading off the track almost in tandem with the more fancied Preakness runner. He also showed some of his personality during the exercise, bucking and playing a bit intermittently through his mild gallop.

Earlier in the morning, two other Preakness hopefuls got their first feel for the Pimlico surface, as D. Wayne Lukas longshot Market King (Into Mischief) and Ken McPeek pupil Signalman (General Quarters) both looked well while jogging around the Baltimore oval. The former, a $550,000 Keeneland September purchase for Robert Baker and William Mack, finished third in a division of the GII Rebel S. Mar. 16, while the latter captured the GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. as a juvenile and checked in third in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. Apr. 6. He was beaten just a nose out of second money that day by Win Win Win (Hat Trick {Jpn}), who arrives Thursday morning from Fair Hill for the Preakness. That photo proved costly, as it narrowly kept Signalman from having enough points to qualify for the Derby.

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