Barn Notes: War of Will, Needs Supervision

By Ryan Martin

1/19/2019. – War of Will wins the 75th running of the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir


War of Will is in ship shape on Sunday morning after continuing to bring the wow factor to trainer Mark Casse’s Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots division in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes, where he earned 10 points on Churchill Downs’ Road To The Kentucky Derby.

The son of War Front won the first of three New Orleans preps for the Grade I $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve after breaking his maiden over the main track at Churchill Downs by five lengths, where he defeated Locally Owned – a six furlong maiden special weight victor earlier on the card.

“He came out of the race beautifully,” said David Carroll, who oversees Casse’s string of horses at Fair Grounds. “He cooled out very well. He’s always been a clear winded horse. He cleaned up his feed and was bright and full of energy this morning so were very, very happy.”

The next qualifying race on the Road To The Kentucky Derby is the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes, which will be rum on February 16 and awards points based off of a 50-20-10-5 scale. The event is likely be War of Will’s next target.

“I’m sure that Mark and Mr. Barber will talk about that but it would seem that would be the logical spot,” Carroll said. “He likes the surface here and he trains well here so it seems like the right race to aim for.”

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.

It’s no secret, however, that he has an affinity for the main track. 

“His pedigree is telling you turf but your head is telling you dirt,” Carroll said. “Anyone that’s been around him in all of the different divisions from (assistant trainer) Jamie Begg in New York, to the guys at the farm last fall have watched him breeze on the dirt. They see him and just say, ‘Wow’. He’s just so impressive on the dirt and his breezes are just unbelievable.”

War of Will has shown some versatility in his only two starts on dirt having won over both a fast and sloppy track.

“In fairness to Mr. Barber he was the one that wanted to give it a go,” Casse said. “His maiden win was exciting on the off track and yesterday on a fast track was even more impressive. It’s a great team we have together. Knowledge is shared and Mark orchestrates where the horse goes and he just fits in beautifully.”

Earlier on the card, Casse scored another stakes win with First Premio in the Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap.

“First Premio ran a huge race yesterday,” Carroll said. “The race set up beautifully but he still had to go out there and do it. Once he got clear he quickened away. He’s a bit tired today but he hasn’t run since June so he’s entitled to be tired.”

Also emerging from victory in solid fashion is Silverbulletday Stakes winner Needs Supervision, for trainer Jerry O’Dwyer who stated that the Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes is the “preliminary plan”.

“She came out of the race great,” O’Dwyer said. “She ate up well last night and had a lot of energy this morning. She was bucking and playing in the round pen.”

Owned by Howling Pigeon Farms in partnership with Gary Barber, Madaket Stables and Wachtel Stables, Needs Supervision was purchased by O’Dwyer for $55,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, where he was consigned by Hidden Brook Farm.

The Silverbulletday Stakes was a third straight win for Needs Supervision, who defeated graded stakes placed fillies Meadow Dance and Lightscameraaction at odds of 37-1 in a Churchill Downs first level allowance race. She broke her maiden in her second career start at her Laurel Park base over three next out winners, including eventual stakes winner Fashion Faux Pas. O’Dwyer stated that Needs Supervision would remain at Fair Grounds for the time being to train for a possible start in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes, which is worth a total of 50 points to the winner on the Road To The Kentucky Oaks.