Mark Casse is an eight-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s outstanding trainer who, for the last several years, has made an indelible mark on U.S. racing.
In 2015, Casse earned his first two victories in the Breeders’ Cup series when Tepin in the Mile and Catch A Glimpse in the Juvenile Fillies Turf scored at Keeneland, both are back as part of his seven-horse contingent for this year’s Breeders’ Cup in California.
KEEP QUIET has improved since stretching out in distance on the turf with two wins and a second. Beat maidens at Saratoga, finished second to Made You Look in the Grade 2 With Anticipation, also at Saratoga, before winning the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland on October 9th.
“I don’t think he handled Keeneland that well,” Casse said. “He’s going to have to step up his game but I like the post with him. I thought we needed a few horses to get lucky and get a good post and I think he did.”
Keep Quiet breaks from post 2 in the 14-horse field.
JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
Casse is very high on LA CORONEL’s chances even after she drew post 14. She is a very talented runner having gone two for two on turf with maiden wins at Saratoga - where the horse that ran second to her, New Money Honey, came back to win a stakes at Belmont in her next start - and the Grade 3 Jessamine at Keeneland which she won by four and a quarter lengths.
“If you said to me who could take the worst draw and still get the job done it would have been La Coronel,” Casse said. “It hurts, but it’s not the end of the world. We run some horses that have to have the perfect trip to be successful; she’s a pretty darn good horse.”
Florent Geroux chose to ride La Coronel over Victory to Victory, Casse’s other horse in this race. Casse said that Geroux told owner John Oxley after La Coronel’s maiden win at Saratoga “We’re going to win the Breeders’ Cup with this one.”
VICTORY TO VICTORY lost her first two starts but then won the Grade 1 Natalma at Woodbine, the same race Catch A Glimpse won before her Breeders’ Cup victory last year.
“I just think she’s gotten better and better,” Casse said. “The Natalma turned out to be a good race and I see where she’s changed.”
Beat the Benchmark, who finished third in the Natalma, came back to win a stakes at Belmont Park last weekend.
Victory to Victory wore blinkers for the first time in the Natalma and she will wear them again on Saturday. Julien Leparoux picks up the mount on Victory to Victory who breaks from post 5.
A slow start breaking from the rail cost VALADORNA On debut when she finished second, but she came back to win her maiden by six emphatic lengths on October 7th at Keeneland.
Her final time of 1:44.47 for 1 1-16 miles was 0.22 faster than the final time of Dancing Rags winning the Grade 1 Alcibiades later on the same card.
“She can win the Breeders’ Cup if she has a good trip, I think she’s that good,” Casse said. “On that Saturday when they ran the Alcibiades and Frizette (at Belmont) I thought our filly was as impressive as any one of those winners.”
One reason Casse believes Valadorna could win the Juvenile Fillies as simply a maiden winner is because he believes “the filly division is not as tough as the colt division.”
FILLY AND MARE TURF
CATCH A GLIMPSE had won eight consecutive races including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf before losing the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga by a neck to Time and Motion in August. While that loss was forgivable, her seventh-place finish to Time and Motion in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth was much harder to understand.
Casse said he didn’t think Catch A Glimpse handled the turf course that day, which is strange considering she had been two for two over it. Casse said he was under no pressure by the owners to run her back in this race, and said after training her for a couple of weeks he could not find an excuse not to run.
Casse does expect her to be on the lead, but there are other quality speed types in this field.
CLASSIC EMPIRE won his first two starts at Churchill Downs in the spring and summer and was given ample time off to point for the Grade 1 Hopeful in September at Saratoga. Three strides out of the gate, he wheeled and unseated jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
Equipped with blinkers, Classic Empire returned to the winner’s circle with a solid three-length victory in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on October 8th.
“Essentially, he ran two turns off a three-month layoff and never batted an eye,” Casse said. “Blinkers maybe made him not see too much. He’s so smart he sees a lot of things. I can tell you one thing, he’s a focused horse. He amazes me how well he handles everything.”
Did the trip to England for Royal Ascot where she beat males in the Queen Anne Stakes take something out of TEPIN?
Perhaps. She won the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile with less than her best effort on September 17th and then had her eight-race winning streak snapped when she was beaten by longshot Photo Call in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland on October 8th.
Casse feels Tepin may have been bothered more by training over the dirt surface at Saratoga.
“The difference between watching Tepin train at Saratoga and watching her train at Churchill is unbelievable,” Casse said. “We were trying to get back to the top and we were training over a surface that maybe she didn’t care for.”
Asked where he felt he was with Tepin, Casse said, “I think we’re right there.”