All Systems Go For Win the War in Santa Ynez

On paper, Sunday’s GII Santa Ynez S. goes through Gary Barber and John Oxley’s Win the War (War Front), who brings a perfect two-for-two record into the seven-furlong test. But it isn’t as if there aren’t questions to be answered as she tries a conventional dirt surface for the first time and faces several promising locally based gallopers.

A $700,000 acquisition by the high-powered duo at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, Win the War endured a wide trip and overcame her inexperience to narrowly land her six-furlong debut over the Woodbine turf Oct. 20. Taking the next logical step in the Nov. 19 Glorious Song S. on the synthetic, she was the only other horse in the market at 9-2 behind ‘TDN Rising Star’ and 1-5 chalk Grace and Dignity (Animal Kingdom) and took advantage of a wicked early pace involving the favorite to romp in by 11 ½ lengths. The surface switch is an obvious concern, but her half-sister Dixie City (Dixie Union) won the GII Demoiselle S. on the main and another stakes-placed half-sister Union City (Dixie Union) produced MGSW & G1SP ‘TDN Rising Star’ Unified (Candy Ride {Arg}).

Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute) remains a maiden after two starts, but has earned this crack at graded stakes level. The dark bay belied debut odds of 21-1 to just miss behind future GISW Dream Tree (Uncle Mo) while pulling some seven lengths clear of Allianna (Flat Out) going six furlongs over this track Oct. 27. She ran a similar race behind that Bob Baffert trainee when last seen in the Nov. 18 Desi Arnaz S. at Del Mar, missing by a nose, and picks up the services of Mike Smith Sunday.

Just a Smidge (Into Mischief) earned the ‘TDN Rising Star’ distinction for a smooth debut success July 19 at Del Mar, but things haven’t gone to script since. A deceptively good third behind front-running Artistic Diva (Munnings) and Steph Being Steph (Majestic Warrior) in the Oct. 22 Anoakia S., the gray adds blinkers off a failed turf try in the GIII Jimmy Durante S. at Del Mar Nov. 25.