Mark Casse has nominated 2019 Preakness Stakes winner to the Sunshine Forever Stakes, Saturday’s featured turf event at Gulfstream Park. It’s a spot that makes sense.
A turf run is a good way to begin a four-year-old campaign that can open up opportunities for the athletic colt down the line, depending on which way the pandemic scheduling winds blow.
At 1-1/16 miles, it’s around two turns and, of course, turf is more forgiving than dirt as a general rule. Given this dynamic, one can go in any direction from there. And it’s not like he doesn’t have grass experience. As a juvenile, he finished second in the Summer Stakes at Woodbine, a Canadian Grade 1.
Actually, War of Will has plenty of turf experience, with four grass starts in all, but it wasn’t until after a fifth-place Breeders’ Cup Juvenile effort that he finally broke maiden later that fall at Churchill Downs, proving that he liked the Kentucky Derby surface.
War of Will came out firing at 3, winning the G3 Lecomte and G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds but as badly beaten in the Louisiana Derby and as everyone knows, he had a bit of a tough trip in the Big Dance, resulting in the first disqualification in Kentucky Derby history.
‘Will’ rebounded in the Preakness, of course, but the best he could accomplish thereafter was a show finish in the Pennsylvania Derby last fall at Parx.
War of Will has had seven workouts at his Palm Meadows base thus far, with three of those breezes coming on grass, including two of the ‘bullet’ variety. It doesn’t figure to be a soft spot with 14 graded-stakes winners nominated, including turf-accomplished mate, March to the Arch.