War of Will To Avoid Jersey Shore
Pending anything unforeseen, trainer Mark Casse has mapped out War of Will’s next start after Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. And much to the surprise of absolutely nobody, the next time War of Will runs Saturday will NOT be at Monmouth Park for the Haskell in somewhat of an all or nothing rematch with Maximum Security. Such a matchup, craved by fans and rife with Horse of the Year ramifications, will have to wait until the Travers, assuming owner Gary West and trainer Jason Servis elect to go that route.
“We’re not going to do that,” Casse said about the Haskell to bloodhorse.com. “You never say never, but it’s highly unlikely. To me, the Haskell doesn’t make sense. We’re going to concentrate on the Travers. Maybe the Jim Dandy (G2, July 27 at Saratoga) and then the Travers.”
Maximum Security and War of Will were at the epicenter of the incident in the Kentucky Derby that led to Maximum Security becoming the first horse in the 145-year history of the Run of the Roses to be disqualified from first for a racetrack foul. The two rivals bumped, causing a chain reaction that led to the stewards taking down the son of New Year’s Day from the top spot and declaring Country House the winner.
Since then, War of Will, who was elevated from eighth to seventh, captured the Preakness, while Maximum Security is at Monmouth Park with trainer Jason Servis pointing for the Haskell, with the possibility of a prep June 16 in the TVG.com Pegasus Stakes at the New Jersey track.
“I’d rather be at Saratoga with this horse. I have the utmost respect for Maximum Security. I think if we’re going to tackle him, let’s tackle him in a neutral area,” Casse told bloodhorse.com. “I also have the utmost respect for Mr. Servis, and I’m not going to his home court to play. If we’re going to play, we’ll play somewhere else.”
As an added incentive to bring together the horses involved in the Kentucky Derby disqualification, Gary West has offered to pay $5 million each to the owners of War of Will, Country House, Long Range Toddy, and Bodexpress if they finish in front of Maximum Security the next time the horses meet during 2019. The challenge also stipulates the owners of the other horses must put up at least $1.86 million, which West will donate to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
Everfast Drills Impressively
Preakness Stakes runner-up Everfast flaunted speed and fitness in his final serious preparation Monday for the Belmont Stakes when he covered five furlongs in 1:01 flat at Churchill Downs.
With exercise rider Faustino Aguilar at the helm, Everfast broke off from the half-mile pole and clocked splits of 12.80 24.40, and 48.60 seconds with a gallop out to six furlongs in 1:13.60 and seven furlongs in 1:28. The move was the second for the son of Take Charge Indy in six days, as he also drilled a half-mile in :50.20 at Churchill on May 29.
“Everfast worked great today. It’s a mile and a half race, so we crammed two works back to back to make sure he is plenty fit,” trainer Dale Romans told Churchill Downs publicity. “The way he worked out there this morning he looked great. He went even early and finished fast and didn’t want to pull up, which might be key going into the Belmont.”
“In the Belmont, by the time they get to the eighth pole, they are all tired,” he added. “It is hard for a horse to kick. So I would think he would be laying a little bit closer.”