Woodbine-based trainer Mark Casse will take another shot this weekend at Santa Anita with five entries in the 2012 Breeders' Cup. Among his 10 previous entries at this prestigious fall event, Casse's closest call was a second-place finish with Sealy Hill in the 2008 Filly and Mare Turf race.
Thoroughbred trainer Mark Casse has won his share of races at Woodbine and other North American tracks over the past three-plus decades, but he would like nothing more than to add an elusive Breeders' Cup victory to his resume.
The Woodbine-based trainer will take another shot this weekend at Santa Anita with five entries in the 2012 Breeders' Cup. Among his 10 previous entries at this prestigious fall event, Casse's closest call was a second-place finish with Sealy Hill in the 2008 Filly and Mare Turf race. Sealy Hill was the 2007 Canadian Horse of the Year.
The Indianapolis-born Casse, who has made Woodbine his home base for the last 20 years, has enjoyed another standout season at the suburban Toronto track. He is on his way to a sixth consecutive year as Woodbine's leading trainer. He has 85 wins (as of Oct. 30), 36 more than second-place Reade Baker with 6 ½ weeks remaining in the 2012 Woodbine thoroughbred season.
Besides a pair of top two-year-old fillies in undefeated Spring Venture and Spring in the Air (who came from behind to win the Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 5), Casse hopes for big things from Dynamic Sky in the Juvenile race on Saturday.
Dynamic Sky finished an impressive second in the Dixiana Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland earlier this month and won the Simcoe Stakes at Woodbine in September.
Grade 3 Durham Cup winner Delegation will race for Casse in the Dirt Mile, while Pool Play will compete in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Pool Play, bred in Ontario by Windfields Farm, is a seven-year old horse that has 32 career starts. Pool Play has made only four starts since a tendon injury, but won his last time out on Oct. 12 in the Hawthorne Gold Cup just outside Chicago.
The 52-year-old Casse earned his trainer's license when he was 18 and won a race at Keeneland that first year in 1979. His father Norman was a horse owner, breeder and trainer for more than 40 years and got his son hooked on racing when he took him to the 1973 Kentucky Derby, and Mark saw the legendary Secretariat romp to victory.
In total, there will be 19 horses with Canadian connections at the 2012 Breeders' Cup, including six horses entered by owner J. Paul Reddam, of Windsor, Ont. Reddam won the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness a few weeks later with I'll Have Another.
Here's a glance at the horses with Canadian connections, their post positions and some of Canadian-based jockeys who will be riding.
- Commander (Hastings Park-based with Troy Taylor, owned by Canadians Glen Todd and Patrick Kinsella, who make up the North American Thoroughbred Horse Company, Inc.) Drew post 11 and will be ridden by former Hastings leading rider Mario Gutierrez.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
- Nancy O (Woodbine-based with trainer Carolyn Costigan, co-owned by her father Robert Costigan of Mississauga) Drew post 9 and will be ridden by Woodbine regular David Moran.
- Spring Venture (Casse trained) Drew post 5 and will be ridden by Woodbine's current leading jockey Patrick Husbands.
- Spring in the Air (Casse trained, Ontario-bred by Winstar Farm LLC) Drew post 3 with Husbands aboard.
Filly and Mare Turf
- Marketing Mix (Ontario-bred by Sean Fitzhenry) Drew post 9.
- Awesome Feather (owned by Stronach Stables of Aurora, Ont.) Drew post 5.
- Know More (owned by Reddam) Drew post 13.
Filly and Mare Sprint - None.
- Delegation (Casse trained, Ontario-bred by Arosa Farms) Drew post 2 with jockey Husbands.
- Jersey Town (Canadian-owned and bred by Charles Fipke of Kelowna, B.C.) Drew post 3.
- Second City (owned Reddam) drew post 9 and will be ridden by Gutierrez.
- Bridgetown (Canadian-owned and bred by Melnyk Racing Stables of Toronto) Drew post 9.
- Upgrade (trained by Calgary native Michele Nihei) Drew post 6.
- Dynamic Sky (Casse trained, Ontario-bred by Arosa Farms) Drew post 6 and will be ridden by 2011 Woodbine champion jockey Luis Contreras.
- He's Had Enough (owned by J. Paul Reddam) Drew post 3 with jockey Gutierrez.
- Cogito (owned by Reddam) Drew post 6.
- Boxeur des Rues (owned by Reddam) Drew post 14 and will be ridden by Gutierrez.
- Animal Kingdom (owned by Team Valor, a U.S. syndicate, in which Ray Bouchard of Winnipeg is a member) Drew post 5.
- Handsome Mike (owned by Reddam) Drew post 7 will be ridden by Gutierrez.
- Pool Play (Casse trained, Ontario-bred by Windfields Farms) Drew post 1.