LEXINGTON, Ky. – Gary Barber’s War of Will eased past longshot Parlor in the final yards to win the 32nd running of the $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) for 4-year-olds and up by a nose Friday afternoon at Keeneland.
With Tyler Gaffalione aboard, War of Will raced in the clear after breaking from post 10 and tracked the pace set by High Crime and Parlor, who raced through fractions of :23.17 and :46.91.
Approaching the stretch, Parlor put away High Crime, completing 6 furlongs in 1:11.09. Under Florent Geroux, Parlor opened a daylight advantage but was unable to hold off the final surge from War of Will and Gaffalione.
Gaffalione said, “Getting the last race out of the way (May 25 Shoemaker Mile-G1 at Santa Anita on the turf) got the nerves out. Taking the blinkers off helped him relax beautifully going around there. And when I called on him he finished up nicely.”
Trained by Mark Casse, War of Will covered the mile on a firm turf course in 1:34.55. It is the first Maker’s Mark victory for Casse and Gaffalione.
“We’re so excited. It’s great for everybody. We’re just so excited,” trainer Mark Casse said.
“Tyler gave him a tremendous ride. I wasn’t sure (at the finish if he won). I wasn’t sure until they put (his number) up. (My wife) Tina and I were just jumping up and down. It’s means so much to the horse. We love him so much. And it means so much for a stallion prospect and everything (to be a Grade 1 winner on dirt and turf). Gary Barber and I will have to talk about (if he goes back to dirt or remains on turf). But everyone knows how much we love him, and it’s so wonderful.”
The victory was worth $180,000 and increased War of Will’s earnings to $1,796,069 with a record of 16-5-1-2 that includes a Grade 1 dirt victory in last year’s Preakness.
A Keeneland sale graduate, War of Will is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of War Front out of the Sadler’s Wells mare Visions of Clarity (IRE).
War of Will returned $13.80, $6.80 and $3.60. Parlor paid $20.40 and $7 and finished a neck in front of favored Raging Bull (FR), who paid $2.40 to show under Joel Rosario.
Mike Maker, trainer of runner-up Parlor said, “That was a tough one to lose. He’s had a tough trip last couple of times and I thought he had a good chance today. He ran his race. I sure thought he was going to hang on. He got out of the gate well and handled the turf well. No excuse. He was just second best.”
It was another half-length back to Without Parole (GB), who was followed in order by Emmaus (IRE), English Bee, Hembree, High Crime, Everfast and Next Shares.