PA Derby Update

War of Will

Media Contact:
Keith Jones

Preakness winner War of Will had what trainer Mark Casse called “his big work” before his next race, the Grade I. $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Saturday, Sept. 21. War of Will worked five furlongs on the main track Sunday morning at Saratoga Race Course in a bullet 59.55 seconds. It was the fastest of 24 recorded works at the distance. “I thought he went well,” Casse said back at the barn after the work. “I was trying to get a little air into him. I wanted to get him tired because we are three weeks out from the race.” War of Will has raced 12 times in his career and has four wins, a second and a third. This year, he has three wins in seven starts. He hasn’t raced since finishing a disappointing fifth in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 27. After that performance, Casse decided to skip the Travers at Saratoga and point instead to the Pennsylvania Derby. Casse said the extra time off helped the son of War Front, much like it did after the Louisiana Derby on March 23. In that race, War of Will was never a factor. He finished ninth after having an issue with his hind end coming out of the gate. The horse did not start again until the Kentucky Derry 42 days later where he finished seventh following the incident that led to the disqualification of Maximum Security. War of Will will have had 56 days between the Jim Dandy and the Pennsylvania Derby. “I think everybody would agree he was on his game in the (Kentucky) Derby,” Casse said. “He was just unfortunate. I kind of looked at that when I made the decision (not to run in the Travers). Every horse can throw in a little bit of a clunker. Some days, they just have bad days.” That’s what Casse is hoping happened in the Jim Dandy. That was the second straight race that War of Will finished off the board; he was ninth in the Belmont after winning the Preakness. Casse is hopeful that his colt will bounce back in the Pennsylvania Derby. From what he has seen from him this summer, he expects that. “I don’t see any reason why not,” Casse said. “He looked well. I think he likes the cool weather. When it gets a little cooler, he really picks his head up. Hopefully, the weather will stay fairly cool and we will have a nice, cool day in Pennsylvania.” War of Will is scheduled to leave Saratoga on Tuesday and ship to Belmont Park, where he will have his final preparations for the Pennsylvania Derby. Casse said that he plans to ship his horse to Parx on the morning of the race. When War of Will steps on the track at Parx for the race, it will be the first he has ever seen it. “He has run pretty good everywhere we have taken him, so not really,” Casse said when asked if he was concerned about that. ---- Tim Wilkin