War of Will (War Front) continued his march towards the First Saturday in May with another powerful performance in Saturday’s GII Risen Star S. at Fair Grounds.
The Gary Barber colorbearer, favored at even-money off the heels of a jaw-dropping win in the GIII Lecomte S. Jan. 19, broke sharply from his well-documented wide draw and secured a perfect stalking position in second behind strong early fractions of :23.71 and :47.36. He made his way to the front under his own restraint on the far turn, kick for home in complete command and kept on finding down the lane as Tyler Gaffalione kept the handsome bay’s mind on business with several reminders, to score by 2 1/4 lengths.
‘TDN Rising Star’ Country House (Lookin At Lucky), far back in the early stages, made a valiant run in the stretch going against the track while lugging in repeatedly to finish a strong second in his first attempt versus winners. Longshot Roiland (Successful Appeal) was up for third.
“For a big horse, he has tremendous speed,” trainer Mark Casse said in the Fair Grounds Stakes Recap. “He had to hit the gas a little to get over, so that got him a little riled up. It’s like hitting the gas and trying to hit stop. They’re not as easy to stop as a car. He got him rolling and probably made the lead a little earlier than we would have liked. He’s done this a few times early on. When he gets the lead, he starts wandering. If he keeps winning, there will be some big targets for him to chase.”
The Risen Star victory gave War of Will 50 qualifying points on Churchill Downs’ Road to the Kentucky Derby. He is now atop the leaderboard with 60 points.
Casse said that the GII Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby Mar. 23 would likely be next.
“As long as he’s happy and healthy that’s where we’ll go and then we’ll talk about it from there,” Casse said. “I think [Fair Grounds] is a wonderful place to get a horse ready for the Classics.”
War of Will, now a perfect three-for-three on dirt, was second in the grassy GI Summer S. and a close fifth in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last term as a maiden.
Saturday, Fair Grounds
RISEN STAR S. PRESENTED BY LAMARQUE FORD-GII, $400,000, Fair Grounds, 2-16, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:44.59, ft.
1–WAR OF WILL, 122, c, 3, by War Front
1st Dam: Visions of Clarity (Ire) (SW-Fr), by Sadler’s Wells
2nd Dam: Imperfect Circle, by Riverman
3rd Dam: Aviance (Ire), by Northfields
($175,000 RNA Ylg ’17 KEESEP; €250,000 2yo ’18 ARQMAY).
O-Gary Barber; B-Flaxman Holdings Limited (KY); T-Mark E.
Casse; J-Tyler Gaffalione. $240,000. Lifetime Record: 7-3-1-1,
$491,569. *1/2 to Pathfork (Distorted Humor), Hwt. 2yo Colt-
Ire, G1SW-Ire, $237,521; Tacticus (A.P. Indy), MSW, $197,571.
Click for eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick Rating:
A+++ *Triple Plus*.
2–Country House, 122, c, 3, Lookin At Lucky–Quake Lake, by
War Chant. ‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Mrs J V Shields, Jr., E J M
McFadden, Jr., and LNJ Foxwoods; B-J. V. Shields (KY);
T-William I. Mott. $80,000.
3–Roiland, 122, c, 3, Successful Appeal–Anabranch, by
Congaree. O/B-James M. & Mary Durlacher (KY); T-Thomas M.
Margins: 2 1/4, 1HF, 2 1/4. Odds: 1.00, 6.90, 69.30.
Also Ran: Hog Creek Hustle, Limonite, Manny Wah, Mr. Money, Owendale, Chase the Ghost, Henley’s Joy, Dunph, Gun It, Plus Que Parfait, Frolic More. Scratched: Kingly. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.