Always Prominent from Wide Post
By Dick Downey
Photo by Hodges Photography
Before Fair Grounds' Risen Star Stakes was run, trainer Mark Casse was brimming with confidence in War of Will, and so were the bettors who made him an even money favorite despite his wide post position. They were right.
Ridden confidently by Tyler Gaffalione, War of Will defeated 13 other opponents after breaking from post 13 to pick up 50 Kentucky Derby points. That alone, but more so when added to 10 points he earned winning the LeComte Stakes last month, easily seals a place in the Derby starting gate if all goes well.
A strong post-time favorite, War of Will returned $4.00 to win, $3.00 to place and $2.60 to show to $2 bettors.
War of Will was always prominent in the race. The second, third and fourth finishers had to close after trailing the field by 9 1/2 lengths and more after the initial four furlongs.
Finishing in second, 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner, was south Florida shipper and Bill Mott trainee Country House, ridden by Luis Saez. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back 69-1 longshot Roiland with James Graham aboard and trained by Tom Amoss, and Vickie Foley trainee Hog Creek Hustle finished fourth under Florent Geroux, beaten six lengths. The latter two are both based at Fair Grounds, as is the winner.
The remaining order of finish was Limonite in fifth, followed by Manny Wah, Mr. Money, Owendale, Chase the Ghost, Henley's Joy, Dunph, Gun It, Plus Que Parfait and Frolic More.
Just after the race, Gaffalione said, "I made the lead a little earlier than I wanted to, he was waiting on horses, but he had plenty left. (Earlier in the race), once he got behind horses, he took the dirt well and relaxed.
Casse said, "I had the utmost confidence in him. Today, Tyler had to hit the gas pedal a little early.... One down and a few more to go. I think he's a superstar."
For more about War of Will, his history and his connections, click here to see his profile on our Looking Good page. We'll post updates about the other horses on the Lists pages, too.