SARATOGA SPRINGS — Preakness winner War of Will got the jump on what will be a relatively quiet weekend at Saratoga Race Course by posting his final timed workout on the main track Friday morning.
With regular jockey Tyler Gaffalione in the saddle, War of Will covered a half-mile in 49.33, a wee bit quicker than two breezes in Kentucky earlier this month. His first timed work at Saratoga was clocked in 1:00.43 for five furlongs on the main track last Saturday.
Trainer Mark Casse said all systems are go for next Saturday’s Grade II Jim Dandy as a steppingstone to the Aug. 24 Travers.
“He went well; you couldn’t ask him to do anything better,” Casse said. “I told Tyler I didn’t want him to go fast. The first quarter [mile] he was a little slow, so we radioed Tyler to pick it up a bit. He gets over the Saratoga surface really well. Tyler said it reminded him of the work before the [Kentucky] Derby. He said last week was good and this week was even better.
“If you want to see poetry in motion for a horse, and what you would like to see out of a racehorse — he’s what it is. He’s the entire package.”
In the Derby, War of Will was trailing just behind Maximum Security when a near-mishap coming off the second turn led to the disqualification of Maximum Security — who is the 8-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park — from first to 17th.
War of Will was elevated from eighth to seventh in the Derby, then won the Preakness and was ninth in the Belmont Stakes on June 8. The Jim Dandy will be his first race since then.
“I think he’s a bigger, stronger horse,” Casse said. “He’s definitely carrying more weight now than he was for the Derby, Preakness or Belmont so he’s probably at his highest weight level. I thought he put on a few pounds going into the Louisiana Derby and we tightened him up for the Derby. His color is real good right now. He has a nice shine to his coat and he’s a happy horse.”
Saratoga will be quiet Saturday, after the New York Racing Association announced Thursday that racing was canceled due to a forecast of extreme heat and humidity.
The entire Saturday card, including the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks, was rescheduled for Sunday, when first post for the 13-race card will be 12:20 p.m.
Delaware Park also canceled Saturday, Laurel Park in Maryland canceled Saturday and Sunday, Ellis Park in Kentucky canceled Friday and Saturday and Charles Town in West Virginia pushed back first post on Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m. to 7:45.
Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., meanwhile, will run its blockbuster Haskell Day card on schedule Saturday.
The $1 million feature race pits Maximum Security against King for a Day, who beat Maximum Security in the Pegasus at Monmouth last time out.
Todd Pletcher, who trains King for a Day as well as Monmouth Cup favorite Coal Front, said he had no reservations about racing Saturday while several tracks have called off their cards.
“As long as we feel they’re good and comfortable and ship in fine and all that stuff, we plan to run.”
Hofburg, who hadn’t raced in over nine months and returned to the track in winning fashion on Thursday, could make his next start in the Grade I Woodward on closing weekend, trainer Bill Mott told NYRA.
“I thought he ran really well,” he said. “Tactically, he was good. He was up in the race and when Jose asked him, he drew away from his company. He didn’t hang at the end and it seemed like he had good energy the last eighth of a mile. It was a very good race.”
“We’re probably a little late to run in the [Aug. 3] Whitney, so maybe we’ll look at the Woodward. We’ll shop around a little bit. Hopefully, the fact that he showed up today is a sign of better things to come.”
Last year, Hofburg was seventh to Justify in the Kentucky Derby and third to him in the Belmont before winning the Curlin at Saratoga, but missed the Travers.
He won his comeback race at Saratoga on Thursday by 2 3/4 lengths.
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