Feb. 25 was Triple Crown Tuesday at Casse Training Center—or two-thirds of the 2019 Triple Crown, to be fully accurate.
Preakness Stakes (G1) winner War of Will and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Sir Winston both worked over the Ocala, Fla., oval for trainer Mark Casse. The former recorded his first breeze of the year, going a half-mile in :50 4/5, while the latter, preparing for the March 28 Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1), covered five furlongs in 1:02 3/5. Both horses breezed under jockey Felix Pinero.
Casse said he decided to put Pinero on the spot, jokingly asking him, "OK, which one is the best?"
Pinero was at a loss for words, the trainer said.
Casse hopes both colts will do some talking this year, beginning with Sir Winston and followed by War of Will, who is expected to return sometime in April or May.
"The plan is to try to make him a grade 1 stakes winner on the grass," he said of the Preakness winner.
Though War of Will raced last year on dirt, the 4-year-old son of War Front out of the Sadler's Wells mare Visions of Clarity has a turf pedigree and was competitive on the lawn as a juvenile in 2018 when he ran second in the Summer Stakes (G1T) at Woodbine and fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T) at Churchill Downs.
"Right now I'm just kind of letting him tell me what he wants to do," Casse said. "We gave him a good break and (it) was probably his first break since he was a yearling. He probably picked up 75-100 pounds and looks well. Today was hopefully the start of a good year."
Gary Barber owns the colt, who also captured the Lecomte Stakes (G3) and Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford (G2) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots at 3. He last ran Nov. 2, finishing ninth in the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Tracy Farmer's homebred Sir Winston, by Awesome Again, bounced back from an uninspired return in the Woodchopper Stakes at Fair Grounds Dec. 28 on turf to win a dirt allowance Jan. 31 at Aqueduct Racetrack. He was brought to Florida from New York this month with the aim to train in a warmer climate before heading to the Middle East.
"He'll go down to Palm Meadows, his next breeze will be down there," Casse said of the South Florida training center.
Already training at Palm Meadows for Casse is dual grade 1 winner Got Stormy, who breezed a half-mile there Feb. 23 in :45.70 while leaving workmate Tricky Magician a few lengths behind. After this quick move, she is targeting the March 7 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1T) at Santa Anita Park to face males over her preferred distance. The Barber-owned 5-year-old daughter of Get Stormy beat the boys in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1T) at Saratoga Race Course last year and was also second in the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T) behind another female and eventual champion Uni.
She ran fourth as the 1-5 favorite in the Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes (G3T) at Tampa Bay Downs in her seasonal debut Feb. 8 after which Casse shifted her to Palm Meadows where she could breeze on turf, as opposed to on dirt at his training center. He said several of her strongest races from last year were after grass workouts, including her victory in the Fourstardave.