By Richard Rosenblatt
Which War of Will shows up for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic is anyone’s guess, but the way he’s been working lately has trainer Mark Casse feeling somewhat optimistic about his colt’s chances.
Gary Barber-owned War of Will worked four furlongs in 47.40 seconds at Santa Anita Park on Friday morning, the second fastest of 51 at the distance.
“I think he looks great but he’s got to pick up his game,’’ Casse said. “He’s going to need his A-plus game. We figure if he comes with it, he’s got a shot. It’s tough. He’s playing against the older boys now.”
A field of 11 was pre-entered for the 1 ¼-mile Classic on Wednesday, with McKinzie and Code of Honor the probable favorites when post positions are drawn on Monday. The Classic is Nov. 2.
War of Will won the Preakness (G1) on May 18, and was considered among the nation’s leading 3-year-olds. The win came two weeks after he challenged for the lead in the Kentucky Derby (G1), only to get caught up in the horse-shuffling that ended with Maximum Security being DQ’d to 17th after finishing first.
The Belmont Stakes (G1) did not go well for War of Will, who finished ninth (Casse’s other entry Sir Winston was the long shot winner). The summer season saw this handsome chestnut son of War Front finish fifth in the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga, and then third in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) behind Math Wizard (also pre-entered in the Classic and Mr. Money on Sept. 21.
War of Will has three wins in eight starts this year, and is 4-1-2 from 13 career starts with earnings of $1.6 million.
$6 Million BC Classic Pre-entries
(Horse, Trainer, Jockey)
McKinzie (Bob Baffert, Joel Rosario)
Code of Honor (Shug McGaughey, John Velazquez)
Vino Rosso (Todd Pletcher, Irad Ortiz, Jr.)
Yoshida (Bill Mott, Mike Smith)
Higher Power (John Sadler, Flavien Prat)
Elate (Bill Mott, Jose Ortiz)
Mongolian Groom (Enebish Ganbat, Abel Cedillo)
Seeking the Soul (Dallas Stewart, Brian Hernandez, Jr.)
Owendale (Brad Cox, Javier Castellano)
War of Will (Mark Casse, Tyler Gaffalione)
Math Wizard (Saffie Joseph, Jr., Ricardo Santana, Jr.)