News and STORIES

War of Will Set for Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Wednesday October 07, 2020
War of Will is set to switch up surfaces when he runs in the Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) Nov. 7 at Keeneland. Three of his 2020 starts have come on turf for trainer Mark Casse.

At the age of 3 last year, War of Will was considered one of the best of his generation on dirt. The War Front colt took the Preakness Stakes (G1) and the Lecomte Stakes (G3), and he scored the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford (G2) earlier in the year. 

The second half of his 2019 season wasn't as great, with a ninth-place run in the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Park to close out the year.

Career Performances and Upcoming Retirement

In 2020, he is 1-for-3 so far. The colt finished sixth in the Shoemaker Mile (G1T) at Santa Anita on May 25 in what was his first start of the season. He then came back to win the Maker's Mark Mile Stakes (G1T) July 10 at Keeneland. His most recent performance was on Sept. 19, when he finished third as the favorite in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1T). 

"It would be nice—he's already a grade 1 winner on the turf this year—to win another grade 1 on the dirt," Casse said. "This will probably be his last start, I would say, before he retires to stud."

War of Will has earned over $1.8 million, and he will stand at Claiborne Farm in 2020. An interest in the colt was purchased by Claiborne this summer from owner Gary Barber.

According to Casse, he was disappointed with the colt's run in the Woodbine Mile. In that outing, he stalked the pace and slowed at the head of the stretch before being defeated. Starship Jubilee, the 2019 Canadian Horse of the Year, beat him by 1 3/4 lengths. 

"I've come to the conclusion that he is not really crazy about the Woodbine turf course," Casse said.

At the age of 2, War of Will started twice on turf at Woodbine. He finished third in a maiden race in August 2018, and a month later, he went on to take second in the Summer Stakes (G1T).

Casse's Other Runners

Casse is also looking at six other runners for the Breeders' Cup, which will run Nov. 6-7. Those names include Woodbine Mile runner-up finisher March to the Arch in the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile Presented by PDJF (G1T), Dirty Dangle in the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2T), Gretzky the Great and Dolder Grand in the Juvenile Turf (G1T), Spanish Loveaffair in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T), and Got Stormy in the Turf Sprint (G1T).

As for Spanish Loveaffair and Got Stormy's runs, they will depend on how they perform and exit races at Keeneland. Spanish Loveaffair is the 7-2 morning-line favorite in the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (G2T) Oct. 7, while Got Stormy is set to be the favorite in the Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes (G3T) at the Lexington Oval. 

Got Stormy will run 5 1/2 furlongs on the Keeneland grass for the event, which replicates the conditions of the Turf Sprint. However, the competition will not be the equivalent. 

The race is restricted to fillies and mares, different from the Turf Sprint, which is a high-level open race. It draws some of the best runners from all across the globe.

Got Stormy is a grade 1 winner who took second in the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T) last fall, beaten by a length and a half by Uni, who is a fellow female runner.