Win the War, undefeated in three starts at Woodbine, returns to her preferred environs for Sunday’s $100,000 Ruling Angel Stakes.
The Ruling Angel, a 6 1/2-furlong overnight stakes for three-year-old fillies, attracted a field of eight.
Win the War, owned by Gary Barber and John Oxley, was undefeated at two, winning first crack out over 6 1/2 furlongs of turf then the seven-furlong Glorious Song Stakes on the Tapeta track at Woodbine.
After beginning her sophomore campaign with a third-place finish in Santa Anita’s Grade 2 Santa Ynez at seven furlongs, Win the War returned to Woodbine for a workmanlike 1 1/4-length score over seven furlongs of Tapeta in the Duchess Stakes.
Casse then shipped the daughter of War Front to Saratoga for the Grade 2 Prioress, a 6 1/2-furlong race in which she finished a distant last of eight under jockey Manny Franco. The trainer blamed Saratoga’s dirt surface, which some horses simply do not seem to handle, for Win A War’s dull effort.
“She can run on the dirt,” said Casse. “When she ran in California she was fairly close to the lead and didn’t eat a lot of dirt. Saratoga’s dirt is a different deal. In the Prioress, they out-sprinted her early and Manny said she acted like a two-year-old that had never run.”
Casse hopes the return to Woodbine and the Tapeta surface will be a panacea.
“We’re just bringing her back there trying to get her back on track,” he said. “Ultimately, I’m going to run her on the turf; I think she’ll probably end up being a good turf horse.
“But, I just thought this was a nice spot for her, to come back.”
The Ruling Angel won’t be a walk in the park, however, with sharp locally-based Glamanation and the talented shipper Jean Elizabeth among her rivals.
Glamanation registered her first career win here last year in the 5 1/2-furlong Shady Well Stakes and went on to finish second in last fall’s six-furlong Ontario Debutante and this spring’s seven-furlong Fury for owner/trainer Mike Doyle.
The Point of Entry filly was purchased privately this summer by Ro Parra’s Millennium Farms and joined the stable of Norm McKnight, who sent out Glamanation to finish a faltering last of five in the Wonder Where Stakes over 1 1/4 miles of turf.
“That was an experiment,” said McKnight. “We didn’t know whether she really wanted to go that far and really, if she’d like the grass that much. But it was a timing thing, they had recently acquired her, and it was a short field. We thought we’d give it a shot, knowing it could be the wrong thing to do. We went ahead and ran her anyway, and obviously it was the wrong thing to do.”
There were no ill effects, however, as Glamanation cut back to six furlongs on the Tapeta for her next start and was a three-length winner of a first-level allowance field including older rivals.
“She kind of impressed me, she really did,” said McKnight. “At the end of the day, I think she looks competitive in this field. I expect her to run well; I wouldn’t be shocked if she won.”
Jean Elizabeth is a winner of six of nine starts, with four of those successes coming over Arlington’s Polytrack surface, and is coming off a close third-place finish in the Dogwood over seven furlongs of slop at Churchill Downs.
Also invading for the Ruling Angel are Devine Mischief, Alexandra Kay and Bint Huwaar.
Devine Mischief finished eighth in the Dogwood but had won earlier at Churchill Downs as well as Charles Town and the Fair Grounds.
Alexandra Kay and Bint Huwaar come in off sharp efforts at Presque Isle Downs.
Rounding out the Ruling Angel field will be Miss Savvy, who is three-for-six this year, and Ravinia, coming off a smart maiden win. Both will be making their stakes debuts.
The Ruling Angel Stakes will be the sixth race on Sunday’s 11-race program, which is set to begin at 1 p.m.
Here is a look at the complete field in post position order:
$100,000 Ruling Angel Stakes
1/Glamanation/Rafael Hernandez/Norm McKnight
2/Devine Mischief/Luis Contreras/Joe Sharp
3/Miss Savvy/Chris Husbands/Bob Tiller
4/Jean Elizabeth/Jose Valdivia Jr./Larry Rivelli
5/Win the War/Patrick Husbands/Mark Casse
6/Ravinia/Skye Chernetz/Justin Nixon
7/Bint Huwaar/David Moran/Brendan Walsh
8/Alexandra Kay/Emma-Jayne Wilson/Kevin Rice