(Sir Winston winning the Belmont Stakes / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

From the Fair Grounds Media Team:

Tracy Farmer’s Sir Winston, who has not raced since posting a 10-1 upset in the Belmont Stakes (G1) in June, posted a bullet half-mile work of :47 3/5 (fastest of 90) on Sunday morning at Fair Grounds for trainer Mark Casse and top assistant David Carroll, who handles the local string.

After running a game second in the Peter Pan Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct in early May, the 3-year-old son of Awesome Again entered the final jewel of racing’s Triple Crown as a fresh horse. The beneficiary of a brilliant ride from Joel Rosario, Sir Winston saved ground and got the jump on the favored Tacitus, who was forced to race wide. He held off that foe by a length in the 1 ½ mile marathon.

After that signature victory, the Mark Casse trainee was sent to the sidelines, spending time at the Casse Training Center in Ocala, Florida. Starting on October 23, he posted six published works there prior to arriving at Fair Grounds.

“He shipped in a couple of days ago and he galloped Saturday,” Carroll said. “We were looking to just get his feet over the track today in a breeze. The track seemed fast early on, and he’s not normally a good work horse, but this morning he went quick and did it very nicely.”

“Huge credit to Mitch Downs and crew at Ocala who took him in after the Belmont and have nursed him back,” Carroll continued. “They have done a terrific job getting him back to this stage and condition wise he looks excellent. We’ll do something more serious with him next weekend and continue getting him ready to go”

Sir Winston is being pointed to the listed Woodchopper Stakes (December 28), scheduled to be run over a mile of turf. In a ten-race career, he’s run only one other time on grass, but he does have two wins over Woodbine’s synthetic Tapeta surface.

“It’s (restricted to) 3-year-olds and we need to get him started somewhere,” Carroll explained. “That’s the most logical spot to get him back. Like I said he’s not the easiest work horse in the morning so sometimes he needs some racing to get back into form, but we are really happy with Sunday morning’s work the way he’s been since we’ve got him back.”

“We’re looking for a good 4-year-old year with him and the way he’s been so far we have no complaints,” Carroll continued. “It’s always exciting having the Belmont winner in the barn.”

(War of Will / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

LECOMTE, RISEN STAR & PREAKNESS WINNER WAR OF WILL GETTING TIME OFF

Following a highly successful and somewhat adventurous 2019 campaign, Gary Barber’s War of Will is enjoying some well-deserved time off.

Last winter/spring at Fair Grounds, the 3-year-old son of War Front stamped himself as a Triple Crown force to be reckoned with, taking both the LeComte (G3) and the Risen Star presented by Lamarque Ford (G2) in highly impressive fashion.

An awkward start from the gate cost him a fair shot in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2), and after recovering quickly from a strained muscle in his right hind end suffered in that event, he would finish a troubled eighth (placed seventh) at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). He won the Preakness (G1) two weeks later at Pimilco, but failed to finish better than third in his final four starts of the season.

“Right now he’s on the farm,” assistant trainer David Carroll explained. “We planned on giving him a break after the Breeders’ Cup (ninth in the Classic). He didn’t miss any dance as a 3-year-old (ninth in the Belmont) so he’s getting a well-deserved break. He’ll be at the farm for the foreseeable future and when the time is right, we’ll map out a plan for next year.”

The son of War Front posts a career record of 14-4-1-2 with earnings of $1,615,569. The Mark Casse trained 3-year-old started nine times in 2019, and earned over $1.4 million throughout the year, including his Preakness triumph.