War Of Will Seeks to Extend Streak in Louisiana Derby

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11:04 am

The 6-5 Morning Line Favorite

A field of 11 sophomores is set for theTwinspires.com Louisiana Derby on Saturday, when War of Will attempts to keep his stakes record at Fair Grounds intact.

Six weeks out from the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, the Louisiana Derby is the first race on the Road To The Kentucky Derby that awards the top 4 finishers points on a 100-40-20-10 scale. War of Will already has enough Kentucky Derby points to make the field.

War of Will is proven at the track after winning the LeComte and Risen Star Stakes and is the 6-5 morning line favorite, per Fair Grounds odds maker Mike Diliberto. Trained by Mark Casse and owned by Gary Barber, the son of War Front has not lost on dirt after four starts on grass for trainer Mark Casse.

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 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Spinning World. Visions of Clarity also produced 2010 Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes victor Pathfork.

Regular rider Tyler Gaffalione will pilot War of Will from post 6.

A handful of familiar faces will be taking another crack at War of Will, the most prominent being Risen Star runner-up Country House. The son of Lookin at Lucky was beaten 2 1/4 lengths in his stakes debut for trainer Bill Mott. He broke his maiden by 3 1/2 lengths at third asking after closing on the main track at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 17.

Country House will break from post 8 as the 9-2 second choice under Luis Saez.

The third and fourth-place finishers of the Risen Star, Roiland and Hog Creek Hustle, are entered too.

A son of Successful Appeal, Roiland closed late ground in the Risen Star Stakes to finish third at odds of 69-1. He broke his maiden at first asking over the main track at Indiana Grand Race Course on Aug. 31 and defeated winners two starts later at upset odds of 28-1. He is trained by New Orleans native Tom Amoss, who seeks his first victory in the Louisiana Derby and will be guided by James Graham.

Hog Creek Hustle breaks from post 11 under jockey Miguel Mena and will seek his first victory since defeating winners in a seven-furlong allowance event on Nov. 10. Trained by Vickie Foley, the son of Overanalyze was a respective second and fourth behind War of Will in the LeComte and Risen Star Stakes.

Trainer Bret Calhoun will send out a pair of Allied Racing-owned sophomores with Mr. Money (post 7, Adam Beschizza, 20-1) and By My Standards (post 5, Gabriel Saez, 12-1).

Mr. Money was a distant seventh behind War of Will in the Risen Star Stakes in his 3-year-old debut, but he rounded out the superfecta in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at odds of 41-1.

By My Standards wenters the Louisiana Derby fresh off of a 4 1/4-length maiden victory over at the track. Also by Goldencents, By My Standards found the winner’s circle at fourth asking but has finished in the money in his prior starts. He enters the Louisiana Derby off of an easy half-mile work in :49.80 on March 16 and fired bullets in his prior two breezes with a half-mile work in :47.20 on March 2 and a five-furlong work in :59.00 on March 9.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Louisiana Derby four times with Circular Quay (2007), Mission Impazzable (2010), Revolutionary (2013) and Noble Indy (2018). This year, he ships in Spinoff. The son of Hard Spun broke his maiden at first asking over the main track at Gulfstream Park last June and followed that win with a third-place finish in the Saratoga Special. He did not race again until Feb. 22, when he romped by 11 3/4 lengths in an allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs.

Steve Asmussen and owner Ron Winchell teamed up to win two Louisiana Derbies with Pyro (2008) and Gun Runner (2016). They’ll be double dipping in this year’s race with Limonite (post 3, Jose Ortiz, 20-1) and Bankit (post 9, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 20-1).

Limonite was fifth, beaten 7 1/4 lengths, behind War of Will in the Risen Star and is still seeking a victory against winners. The son of Lemon Drop Kid broke his maiden going seven furlongs over the Keeneland main track on Oct. 6.

Meanwhile, Bankit has the most lifetime starts of any horse in the field, having run eight times. The New York-bred son of Central Banker broke his maiden second time out at Saratoga on July 27 by 6 3/4 lengths and three starts later won Belmont Park’s Sleepy Hollow by 5 3/4 lengths. He is seeking his first victory against open company, as both of his wins took place against fellow New York-breds. Both horses are owned by Winchell in partnership with Willis Horton Racing.

Trainer Keith Desormeaux ships in Southwest Stakes runner-up Sueno (post 4, Corey Lanerie, 8-1). The son of Atreides broke his maiden second time out for an $80,000 tag at odds of 24-1 by 4 3/4 lengths at Del Mar on Aug. 31 and shipped to Golden Gate Fields to win the Gold Rush Stakes on Dec. 1 in his next start. A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Deseromeaux seeks his first Louisiana Derby win.

Rounding out the field is Lemniscate (post t2, Brian Hernandez, Jr., 15-1) for trainer Kenny McPeek, who won the Louisiana Derby with Repent in 2002. The son of 2000 Louisiana Derby runner-up Exchange Rate broke his maiden over the turf at Gulfstream Park on March 3 last time out, which was at third asking.  Lemiscate may be part of the pace on Saturday.

The Louisiana Derby has a post time of 6:13 ET and is carded as the last of 13 races on Saturday. It's the final leg of a $500,000 Guaranteed All Stakes Pick 4, which kicks off in the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap, Race 10.  

First post on Louisiana Derby day is noon ET.

The field in post position order:

1 Roiland 12-1 James Graham
2 Lemniscate 15-1 Brian Hernandez, Jr.
3 Limonite 20-1 Jose Ortiz
4 Sueno 8-1 Corey Lanerie
5 By My Standards 12-1
6 War of Will 6-5 Tyler Gaffalione
7 Mr. Money 20-1 Adam Beschizza
8 Country House 9-2 Luis Saez
9 Bankit 20-1 Irad Ortiz, Jr.
10 Spinoff 8-1 John Velazquez
11 Hog Creek Hustle 12-1 Miguel Mena

Edited release with additonal content by Dick Downey