European auction houses are no strangers to selling horses that go on to classic success. Usually those wins happen on this continent. but an Arqana May Breeze-Up Sale graduate has won the Group 1 Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the US Triple Crown.
War Of Will is an American-born son of Claiborne Farm's outstanding stallion War Front (by Danzig) and the Keeneland September Yearling Sale was the location of his first public appearance. He failed to meet his reserve that day, led out unsold at $175,000, and although catalogued as lot 63 for the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up Sale last year, missed that event and went to the French auction instead.
It was there that Justin Casse bought him for €250,000, three months before the colt began his career with a third-place finish in a seven-furlong Woodbine maiden. He was a three-quarter-length runner-up to Fog Of War in the Grade 1 Summer Stakes over a mile on turf at the same venue three weeks later, then finished fourth in a Grade 3 contest at Keeneland before taking fifth to Line Of Duty in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Then he won his maiden, scoring by five lengths over eight and a half furlongs on dirt at Churchill Downs.
A four-length win in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes over the same trip at Fair Grounds in January was followed by a two-and-a-quarter-length defeat of Country House in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes over the same course and distance a month later, but he disappointed when an odds-on favourite for the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby next time before enduring a troubled passage in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.
He was one of those impacted by the move that led to Maximum Security being disqualified that day but gained some compensation with his length-and-a-quarter defeat of Everfast at Pimlico. Owendale was a nose back in third, a length and a quarter in front of his stable companion Warrior's Charge.
War Of Will was bred by the Niarchos family's Flaxman Holdings Ltd and represents one of their most successful families. The half-brother to Group 1 National Stakes winner and successful young South African blacktype sire Pathfork (by Distorted Humor) is out of the French listed scorer Visions Of Clarity (by Sadler's Wells).
War Front's previous top-level winners out of Sadler's Wells (by Northern Dancer) mares are the siblings Brave Anna and Hit It A Bomb, whereas Roly Poly, U S Navy Flag and the aforementioned Fog Of War are out of daughters of Galileo (by Sadler's Wells). It may appear to carry significance, but results from just four mares with a partial connection don't necessarily reflect anything more than coincidence coming from having sent well-bred individuals to a top sire. There are no magic formulae when it comes to breeding racehorses.
Visions Of Clarity is a half-sister to the classic and Breeders' Cup-winning miler Spinning World (by Nureyev) – who was a notably successful stallion – and she is out of Imperfect Circle (by Riverman), a Listed Firth of Clyde Stakes winner who was runner-up in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes and who has several siblings of note.
That mare's winning half-sister Remote Romance (by Irish River) is the dam of the middle-distance Group 1 scorer Saddex (by Sadler's Wells), her half-brother Denon (by Pleasant Colony) was a multiple winner at the highest level but a disappointing stallion, and her half-sister Chimes Of Freedom (by Private Account) won both the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes and Group 1 Coronation Stakes before going on to a notable career at stud.
That star gave us the Grade 1 Atto mile winner Good Journey (by Nureyev) and US champion Aldebaran (by Mr Prospector) whose wins featured the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, Grade 1 Forego Handicap, and Grade 1 San Carlos Handicap. She is also the dam of a listed scorer and the ancestor of several others who have won in blacktype company.
Aviance (by Northfields), who won the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes a juvenile, is the third dam of Will Of War, and that half-sister to Group 1 Prix du Cadran scorer Chief Contender (by Sadler's Wells) is a granddaughter of the Grade 3 winner and hugely influential mare Best In Show (by Traffic Judge).
War Of Will is a classic winner with an outstanding pedigree, one that will also make him an exciting prospect when the time comes for him to go to stud. Before then, however, there should be plenty more good prizes to be won with him. It would be great to see him take on Maximum Security again soon and, of course, the best of the older horses.
Sires & Winners