•              Mark Casse Derby Hopefuls War of Will, Dream Maker Record Half-Mile Works

•              Seeking the Soul Breezes Six Furlongs for Dubai World Cup


Rain or shine, business typically goes on as planned at Mark Casse’s stable at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, so a sealed and muddy main track early Saturday morning did not deter assistant David Carroll from working two of the stable’s prized 3-year-olds.

Owned by Gary Barber, two-time graded stakes winner War of Will went out to the main track at 5:45 a.m. and worked a half-mile in company with Dynamic Force and completed his four-furlong breeze in :50.20 with Declan Carroll aboard. The move was the 3-year-old son of War Front’s first breeze since a victory in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford and he remains on target for the Grade II $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on Saturday, March 23.

“We had a sealed racetrack this morning but it gives you such confidence because it’s a superior surface,” Carroll said. “It has a great bottom on it so we were very comfortable breezing today. War of Will went beautifully. Just finished up the last eighth and galloped out on his own steam. We never did ask him for anything today, it was just nice to see him back stretching his legs. He looked as great as ever and cooled out beautifully.”

In addition to taking the Risen Star Stakes, War of Will also won the Grade III Lecomte Stakes in January and is atop the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 60 qualifying points. A win in the Louisiana Derby when give him a clean sweep of all three Fair Grounds qualifiers on the Road To The Kentucky Derby, a feat accomplished by former Derby contenders Girvin (2017), International Star (2015), Friesian Fire (2009) and Dixieland Heat (1993). The Louisiana Derby awards the Top 4 finishers points based off of a 100-40-20-10 point scale. Grade I placed on turf as a 2-year-old, War of Will has won all three of his starts on the main track and has shown versatility when racing over different conditions having won over sloppy and fast dirt surfaces.

“I don’t think he has to improve a whole lot at this stage,” Carroll said. “We know that he’s very talented and we’re just going to keep him happy and healthy which are the two most important things. If he’s happy and healthy then we’ll let his talent do the talking.”

Purchased from the Arqana Breeze Up Sale in Deauville, France 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 2010 Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes victor Pathfork. Other members of his family include North American Grade I turf winners Good Journey and Denon.

Shortly after War of Will worked, Carroll sent out Dream Maker to record a half-mile work in preparation for the Grade II $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9.

Guided by regular rider Florent Geroux, the John Oxley homebred son of Tapit recorded his move in :49.00, which was his second serious work since an 8½-length allowance victory over the Fair Grounds main track on February 9. 

“Dream Maker was very good this morning, just wanted to do a bit more with him,” Carroll said. “He runs next week so we wanted to stretch his legs the last eighth. He finished up beautifully; it was a typical gallop out for him. He’s in a great place so hopefully he can take his game on to Tampa.”

Dream Maker is a full-brother to Dream Dancing who was a Grade I winner on turf. Both are out of the Monarchos broodmare To Dream About whose dam is 1999 Champion Older Mare Beautiful Pleasure.

Carroll praised Fair Grounds for having such a quality training surface for young horses in the winter.

“The surface has been this way for years and it’s why there are so many horses that come out of here and do so well throughout the year,” Carroll said. “It’s been proven year after year. It has great consistency to it which is the main thing. Horses seem to thrive on it, always been comfortable breezing on it when it’s an off track. This place and Churchill are very similar, both are superior racetracks.”


Following a busy Saturday morning of workers, Charles Fipke’s Grade I winner Seeking the Soul went out to the Fair Grounds main track during a special designated time of 11:40 am CT to record another work towards the Group 1 $12 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse on March 30.

Trained by Dallas Stewart, the 6-year-old son of Perfect Soul (Ire.) logged a six furlong breeze in 1:11.60 while recording fractions of 12.60, 25.20, 37.20, 49, 1:00.20 and galloped out in 1:25.60. It was his fourth work since a runner-up finish in the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on January 26.

“We wanted to get a good work in him, the track has been kind of muddy,” Stewart said. “My thanks to the Fair Grounds, (Director of Racing) Jason (Boulet) and the track crew, they got us a good track. It’s a major race coming up. We’re thirty days out and we’re about thirty days from when we last ran so we wanted a good work. We got a couple of easy works in him so now we’ll just keep him happy and get him over there.”

An earner of nearly $3 million, Seeking the Soul won the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs in November 2017. He finished third in last year’s running of the Clark Handicap following a runner-up effort behind City of Light in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at the Louisville oval.

A Kentucky homebred, Seeking the Soul is out of the Grade I-place Seeking the Gold broodmare Seeking the Title, who also won the Grade III Iowa Oaks. He is a direct descendant of the undefeated Champion Filly and iconic broodmare Personal Ensign.