LEXINGTON, Ky. – While Preakness Stakes winner War of Will had another relaxed morning on Wednesday at Keeneland, one of his expected foes in the Belmont Stakes hit the track to breeze.
Japanese import Master Fencer, pointing to the Belmont after finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby, was credited with a half-mile work in 52 seconds by the Keeneland clockers. The colt, as per his usual routine, turned in a fair bit of easy exercise before commencing the work, first jogging lightly on Keeneland’s synthetic training track before proceeding to the main oval. Once on the dirt track, he jogged and cantered a full lap going the right way, at times picking up a gallop for a few strides, before heading to the pole for what was designed as a six-furlong work. He galloped through the first quarter-mile of that at slower than a two-minute lick, resulting in the official clockers crediting him with only a half.
“At the training track, because he’s a pretty slow starter, we meant him to warm up and get ready to go to the main track,” exercise rider Yosuke Kono said via a translator. “Even at the main track, we actually wanted to see how he can move his body to take action. So the first [lap] he actually did a stop and go because we wanted to see how he can respond to the break. So he did that twice and he responded well. For the breezing, he did the Japanese way where we start slowly and then maybe the last two furlongs have a strong finish.”
Master Fencer rallied from 19th at the quarter pole to cross the line a creditable seventh in the Kentucky Derby – moved up to sixth via the disqualification of Maximum Security. After traveling from Japan, the colt trained at Keeneland for a few days prior to shipping to Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby week . He returned to Keeneland following the race. He is scheduled to ship to New York on Friday.
Meanwhile, Preakness winner War of Will spent a leisurely morning grazing and walking the Mark Casse shed row, where his Preakness garland of flowers was displayed on the half-wall in front of his stall. The colt is expected to return to the track on Thursday.
“He’s fit as a fiddle,” assistant trainer David Carroll said. “We’ll train him nice and quietly. He’ll have an easy week, and we’ll take it from there. I’m going to be Mark’s eyes and ears. The horse will tell us what he needs to do.”
War of Will is expected to ship to New York about 10 days before the Belmont Stakes in order to have a breeze over the track prior to the June 8 Triple Crown finale.
“Have an easy work over the surface – just acclimate to the surroundings,” Carroll said.