By Ryan Martin
With a victory in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes in the rearview mirror, Gary Barber’s War of Will resumed serious business early Saturday morning in preparation for his next scheduled task in the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on February 16.
Under the supervision of trainer Mark Casse’s assistant David Carroll, the 3-year-old son of War Front went to the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots main track at 5:30 a.m. and breezed a half-mile in an easy :51 with Declan Carroll aboard for the journey.
“He broke off a little bit slow but picked it up beautifully,” Carroll said. “He galloped out great as he normally does. It was just a very smooth and just a beautiful work, very happy with it. Mark will be in town next weekend to watch him work and we’ll get him another easy half-mile. He’s fit and he looks fantastic. We don’t need to get him any fitter, all we need to do is just keep him happy.”
Fair Grounds clocker and odds maker Mike Diliberto was particularly impressed with War of Will’s strong and authoritative gallop out.
“He went just real easy,” Diliberto said. “He wasn’t pushed or asked for any speed. He continued to gallop out real strong past the seven eighth before he pulled up at the clocker’s stand.”
The Risen Star Stakes is the second of three New Orleans prep races on Churchill Downs’ Road To The Kentucky Derby and is worth 50 points to the winner. War of Will has already acquired 10 points with his win in the Lecomte Stakes.
War of Will is an unbeaten two-for-two over the main track. He won his main track debut over the Churchill Downs dirt by five lengths in hand-ride fashion before his Lecomte Stakes triumph. His prior four starts took place over grass and included a second-place finish in the Grade I Summer Stakes at Woodbine in September of last year.
Purchased by Casse’s brother Justin from the Arqana Two-Year-Olds In Training Breeze Up Sale in France last May for $298,550, War of Will is out of the Sadler’s Wells broodmare Visions of Clarity (Ire.) who is a half-sister to 1997 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Spinning World. Visions of Clarity also produced Pathfork – the winner of the Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at The Curragh in 2010. Other members of his family include Grade I turf winners Good Journey and Denon as well as Aldebaran, a three-time Grade I winner on dirt.