News and STORIES

War of Will Leads Field of 12 in Sunshine Forever

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Thursday May 07, 2020
The $75,000 Sunshine Forever is set for May 9 with a field of 12 entries. The 1 1/16-mile turf test at Gulfstream Park will include main-track-only entry Just Whistle and 2019 Preakness Stakes (G1) winner War of Will, who drew the outside post. 

War of Will

Due to the various changes in the racing schedule, the 4-year-old season of War of Will is set to kick off with the Sunshine Forever. His post position is not surprising, as the horse is known for his unlucky draws, including post 1 in the 2019 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). 

The son of War Front is owned by Gary Barber and has not raced since the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) in November, where he finished fifth. Since the beginning of March, he has been training at Palm Meadows Training Center.

War of Will breezed a bullet four furlongs in :46.35 on April 18, the fastest of 98 at that distance. He also turned in a half-mile in :49.20 on May 2. 

"We purposely slowed him down in his last work. He's a great work horse, and he does it with such ease. His last grass work was amazing—not just what he did during the work but what he did after. He just took off afterwards," Casse said. "He's a happy horse right now.

"I think he's grown up. He looks wonderful. He's filled out. He's always been a beautiful horse. He was going long and hard for a long time. This was his first rest in some time. It did him well."

Last year, War of Will performed best on dirt, while his 2-year-old season began on turf. During that season, he placed second to Fog of War in the Summer Stakes (G1T) at Woodbine, three-quarters of a length behind. 

"When we went ahead and gave him the rest of the winter off, Gary and I talked about it, and our goal for 2020 was to try to make him a grade 1 winner on the grass," he said. "We had lots of plans, and then, of course, the coronavirus slowed things down. We had originally planned on trying to make the Shoemaker Mile."

Santa Anita Park

The last time there was a race at Santa Anita Park was March 27. The Los Angeles Department of Health then ordered the track closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Even with the closing, the May 25 Shoemaker Mile (G1T) is still scheduled. Golden Gate Fields was also given the green light to begin spectatorless racing on May 14. 

"We just don't know if Santa Anita is going to run. We're going to have to make a decision," Casse said. "If it were to look like there was a good chance that Santa Anita is going to run and there is going to be a Shoemaker Mile, we may scratch and go out to California with him, so it's still a little up in the air. … Right now, I'd say there's a good shot we're going to run (in the Sunshine Forever)."

The jockey for War of Will is set to be Tyler Gaffalione. 

El Tormenta and Social Paranoia 

Another two horses to look out for are Sam-Son Farm's homebred El Tormenta and the Elkstone Group's Social Paranoia. Both of the horses were given the highweight of 126 pounds. 

El Tormenta performed impressively at Woodbine last season, with a victory in the Cannaught Cup Stakes (G2T) in June and the Ricoh Woodbine Mile in September. He then went on to finish sixth in the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T). 

In the March 28 Appleton Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream, the Stormy Atlantic gelding performed poorly. In what was his season-debut, El Tormenta finished 12th. 

Social Paranoia came back after a three-month layoff to take the Appleton. 

He placed second or third in his five 2-year-old starts and went on to break his maiden in his sophomore debut at Belmont. Social Paranoia also finished second in the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T) and closed out his 2019 campaign with a victory in the Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs.