So while Gary and Mary West, Maximum Security’s owners, took their fight to courts, and Country House, the Derby runner-up who was declared the winner, got sick, Casse kept War of Will on the Triple Crown trail.
His colt scooted up the rail for an emphatic length-and-a-quarter win in the Preakness, putting Gaffalione and Casse in the winner’s circle of an American Classic for the first time.
“I like to run my horses when they are doing well,” he said.
In the three weeks since his Preakness triumph, Casse said War of Will had gained almost 50 pounds and was getting stronger. (For casual sports fans who might associate putting on weight in-season with too much time at the dessert table, worry not. Triple Crown races are for 3-year-olds, who are still growing and maturing, and gaining weight is a sign of that.)
He will have to overcome some formidable foes, namely Tacitus, a colt that has been training sharply at Belmont Park since finishing third in the Derby.
“When the Derby and Preakness winners are here and get beat, it’s usually by a Belmont-based horse,” said Casse. “There’s an advantage to it.”
The grueling mile-and-a-half distance on Belmont’s big sweeping track has earned the race’s nickname as the Test of the Champion.
Casse believes that in War of Will he has a colt who can ace that challenge. The colt has taken his share of lumps throughout the spring and, yes, he has been overlooked as controversies and tragedies have overcome the sport.
“But I’ve had this since the beginning, that great horses can win when things aren’t perfect,” Casse said. “Is it ideal? No. Can he win? Absolutely.”