(War of Will winning the G2 Risen Star in his last start at the Fair Grounds / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

By Ryan Martin, Fair Grounds Media Team:

The wet track conditions were not what the connections were hoping for, but Grade III Lecomte and Grade II Risen Star Stakes winner War of Will marched on and continued to exhibit excellent work ethic in his final breeze for the Grade II $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby to be run Saturday, March 23 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.


Following the renovation break on Friday morning, the two-time graded stakes winning son of War Front worked a half-mile in :47.60 over a sealed wet Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots main track and galloped out five-eighths in an authoritative 1:01.00 under exercise rider Eduardo Guererro. Trainer Mark Casse’s assistant David Carroll anticipated evening showers on Friday which is why he moved the work up a day.


“We were hoping to breeze him over a fast track since we had rain in the forecast for tonight,” Carroll said. “The weather even surprised the track crew. We were very happy with him so we’ll enter tomorrow and hopefully have a good week leading up to the race.”


Carroll did not get the fast track that he anticipated but was still highly satisfied with the work and, all things considered, the condition of the surface.


“We’re dealing with the Fair Grounds, which has such a tremendous bottom on it,” Carroll said. “It’s just a very good surface. Obviously you’d rather be on a fast track but if it’s an off track we feel very comfortable with it. This winter we’ve had a lot of rain so he’s trained on an off track, having said that he trained beautifully. I’m tickled to death with him. It was just a maintenance work and I think the track was playing a little fast with a sealed track but I was very impressed with him today.”


With all the heavy lifting in the rearview mirror, the only thing on Carroll’s mind is to keep War of Will sound and on go for the Louisiana Derby.


“Our main concern his him, we just want to keep him happy and healthy,” Carroll said. “As long as we can do that, then it’s up to him after that. There are bigger races ahead but distance wise he shouldn’t have any issues moving forward. He’s out of a Sadler’s Wells mare (Visions of Clarity (Ire.)) so he should be able to go all day.”


Owned by Gary Barber, War of Will is going to attempt a sweep of the trio of Fair Grounds preps on Churchill Downs’ Road To the Kentucky Derby after winning the Grade III Lecomte Stakes on January 19 and the Grade II Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford on February 16. The last horse to sweep the series of Kentucky Derby qualifiers at Fair Grounds was International Star in 2015.


War of Will is currently No. 1 on the Leaderboard with a total of 60 points. A victory in the Louisiana Derby would give him an additional 100 points towards the Grade I $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve.


Purchased from the Arqana Breeze Up Sale in Deauville, France War of Will is out of the Sadler’s Wells broodmare Visions of Clarity (Ire.) who is a half-sister to 1997 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Spinning World. Visions of Clarity also produced 2010 Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes victor Pathfork. Other members of his family include North American Grade I turf winners Good Journey and Denon.


Also on the Friday morning work tab was Grade I Pegasus World Cup runner-up Seeking the Soul who worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 before galloping out in 1:13.20.


Trained by Dallas Stewart, the Charles Fipke-owned 6-year-old son of Perfect Soul (Ire.) is on target for the Group 1 $12 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse on March 30.


“He looked great,” Stewart said. “He had good energy through the work and finished up the last eighth of a mile real well. He came back great and he’s ready to go. You want to be on your top game for a race like this. You got to be top notch to be ready and he’s ready.”


Stewart stated that either Mike Smith or John Velazquez – both Hall of Fame jockeys – would pilot Seeking the Soul in the Dubai World Cup.


An earner of nearly $3 million, Seeking the Soul won the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs in November 2017. He finished third in last year’s running of the Clark Handicap following a runner-up effort behind City of Light in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at the Louisville oval.


A Kentucky homebred, Seeking the Soul is out of the Grade I-place Seeking the Gold broodmare Seeking the Title, who also won the Grade III Iowa Oaks. He is a direct descendant of the undefeated Hall of Famer and iconic broodmare Personal Ensign.


Other notable Friday morning works include last year’s Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Monomoy Girl who worked a half-mile in :48.20 in company with well-bred maiden winner Cornacchia for trainer Brad Cox. Owned by Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables, the 4-year-old daughter of Tapizar won last year’s Grade II Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds before going on to win a total of five Grade I races her sophomore campaign. She is a possibility for Oaklawn Park’s Grade I $750,000 Apple Blossom Handicap on April 14. Ivery Sisters Racing’s five-time Louisiana-bred stakes winner Monte Man went a half-mile in :49.00 for trainer Ron Faucheux in preparation for a possible back-to-back win in the $60,000 Costa Rising Stakes on March 23.