By Ryan Martin

•              War of Will ‘Wonderful’ After Grade II Risen Star Victory

•              Amoss, Politi Eye Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks with Serengeti Empress

•              Champion Monomoy Girl Returns to Work Tab


Gary Barber’s War of Will emerged from Saturday evening’s triumph in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford in good order according to trainer Mark Casse’s assistant David Carroll who stated that the Grade II $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 23 would likely be his next start.

“He looked wonderful,” Carroll said. “He cleaned up his feed last night and cleaned up his breakfast this morning.  Just had a little jog this morning and jogged beautifully. He seems very bright and not tired. We’re thrilled to death with him. He likes it here and I don’t see Mark or Mr. Barber wanting to change anything so as long as he stays healthy and sound (the Louisiana Derby) is the game plan.”

Now unbeaten in three starts over the main track, War of Will broke his maiden at Churchill Downs by five lengths before another easy performance in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes on January 19 which he won by four lengths. When taking the Risen Star Stakes, he did so under a bit more urging from jockey Tyler Gaffalione and won by 2½ lengths.  

“With the outside post (fourteen) we needed to get a forward position and once we did that he was on the bridle,” Carroll said. “Tyler took over a little sooner than he had liked. He said yesterday was the first time he waited on horses. Once he got after him I thought that he finished up very nice and his gallop out was very strong. I like to think there’s plenty left in the tank.”

Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holding, War of Will is by War Front and 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. He was purchased by Casse’s brother Justin from the Arqana Two-Year-Olds In Training Breeze Up Sale in France last May for $298,550.

Risen Star Stakes runner-up Country House also exited his performance in good shape. The connections did not rule out returning for the Louisiana Derby.

Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott, the son of Lookin At Lucky was five wide into the stretch and was unable to keep a straight path around the three-sixteenths pole but was still game enough to finish up a strong second.

“We were very pleased with his effort despite running pretty green in the stretch,” said Riley Mott, the assistant and son of trainer Bill Mott. “He came back well and looked good this morning. I’m sure the boss and the owners will discuss his next race once we get him back home but given how he shipped so well and handled the track fine I would say the Louisiana Derby would be an option for us.”

Earlier on the card, Country House’s half-sister Mitchell Road the Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course. Both are out of the War Chant broodmare Quake Lake and are owned by Mrs. J.V. Shields Jr. and E.J. McFadden. LNJ Foxwoods owns a piece of Country House.

Trainer Tom Amoss reported that his third-place finisher of the Risen Star Stakes Roiland was in good condition on Sunday morning and that a decision on the Louisiana Derby is “up in the air”. The James and Mary Durlacher-owned son of Successful Appeal made up for a distant seventh-place effort in the Lecomte Stakes when he rounded out the trifecta in the Risen Star Stakes, where he was 69-1.


Following a dazzling effort in the Grade II Rachel Alexandra Stakes, Serengeti Empress will seek another New Orleans graded stakes victory on the Road To The Kentucky Oaks in the Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 23.

The daughter of Alternation took the Rachel Alexandra Stakes field gate-to-wire in Saturday’s raced and won under a hand ride by 4½ lengths with current Fair Grounds leading rider James Graham aboard for the journey. It was her first victory since an even more dominant performance in the Grade II Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs, which she won by 19¼ lengths.

“It was a numbing experience,” owner Joel Politi recalled. “When she won, we were in disbelief of how impressive it was. If you been around the game long enough, you get moments and you really enjoy cherish and treasure them and that was one of them. I was a little more nervous for (Saturday’s) race. Tom would even tell you that she wasn’t fully cranked. She only had three works and went five eighths twice and that was it. We had reasonable expectations.”

Amoss reported that Serengeti Empress emerged from the Rachel Alexandra Stakes in good shape.

“I thought she got a lot left and she did,” Amoss said. “I knew after a half-mile that it would take a freakish effort to beat her. She looks good, Roiland looks good and so does (sixth-place finisher of the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap) Lone Sailor. In his defense, he was off the pace on a day where speed was showing that it was good. He looked healthy this morning and I’m not going to fault him for a bad race.

Amoss stated that the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap is an option but could depend on where the fellow G M B Racing-owned stakes winner Tom’s d’Etat ends up running.


Champion Three-Year-old Filly Monomoy Girl recorded a stellar campaign during her sophomore season in 2018 and on Sunday morning she started to pick back up where she left off when recording her first breeze as a 4-year-old.

Owned  by Monomoy Stables, Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables, the 4-year-old daughter of Tapizar went out to the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots main track at about 6:00 a.m. with exercise rider Mario Garcia aboard and went an easy three-eighths in 37.00 for trainer Brad Cox.

BSW Bloodstock and ELiTE Sales Partner Liz Crow was present for Monomoy Girl’s Sunday morning workout. BSW Bloodstock and ELiTE sales are responsible for the acquisition of Thoroughbreds for owner Sol Kumin and his racing partnerships, one of which is Monomoy Stables.

“It was a good work,” Crow said. “She did it pretty much like she was galloping. She has been letting Brad know she wanted to do something. She has a lot of energy and I think she looks better than ever. She’s filled a lot and put on a lot of muscle. Overall, she just looks more mature. It’s hard not to be excited about that.”

Last season, Monomoy Girl scored a total of five Grade I victories when taking the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, Longines Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park, Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga and Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs .

The Grade I $700,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 14 is an option for Monomoy Girl’s 4-year-old debut, but nothing has been set in stone as far as where it would take place.

“I’d call it a soft target because there are some other options around that time period,” Crow said. “It’s a possibility but not a definite.”

Crow noted races like the Grade I $500,000 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 3, the Grade I $700,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park on June 8 and the Grade I $700,000 Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga on August 24 as ideal spots for Monomoy Girl later in the year with the ultimate goal being a repeat win in the Grade I $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on November 2. 

Other notable works include Bloom Racing’s two-time Grade I winner Midnight Bisou who went a half-mile in 49.80 for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen in her first work since winning the Grade III Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston. Also working for Asmussen were graded stakes winners Hot Springs and Mia Mischief who both went five furlongs on Sunday morning. Owned by Woodford Thoroughbreds, Hot Springs completed his breeze in 1:01.40 while his stable mate logged hers in 1:01.80.