02/01/2015 9:32AM

The Great War draws off to easy victory in 96Rock Stakes

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Coady Photgraphy
The Great War wins the 96Rock Stakes by 7 1/4 lengths Saturday at Turfway Park.

Coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, The Great War appeared the standout on paper heading into Saturday night’s $69,345 96Rock Stakes at Turfway Park. And more importantly, he proved to be in a class by himself in the race itself, drawing off to an easy 7 1/4-length victory in his first start as a 3-year-old.

Well prepared following nearly a three-month layoff by new trainer Wesley Ward, The Great War was in the race from the break, pressing the early leader Serious Talk through an opening quarter-mile in 23.04 seconds and a half in 46.38.

Then the race turned into a one-horse affair. He easily dispatched Serious Talk, who would fade to be a distant third, and The Great War never was threatened by the late-running runner-up Two Step Temper in the stretch. The winner won handily under Albin Jimenez, crossing the wire with his ears pricked.

He raced 6 1/2 furlongs on Polytrack in 1:18.69, paying $2.20 as the overwhelming favorite in the field of 11.

A 3-year-old son of War Front, the three-time winner on turf last year overseas with Aidan O’Brien was wintered in Kentucky this year, with Ward wanting to run him in Turfway’s two 3-year-old preps to ready him for its signature race, the Grade 3, $550,000 Spiral on March 21.

Owned by a partnership that includes Joseph Allen and principals from Coolmore Stud, The Great War is expected to stretch out to a route for his next start Feb. 28 in the John Battaglia Memorial.