Mark Casse, after going winless with his first 23 Breeders’ Cup starters, has three wins and three seconds with his last 12 runners. In 2015, he won two races with Tepin (Mile) and Catch a Glimpse (Juvenile Fillies Turf). Last year, he won the Juvenile with Classic Empire, who was voted champion two-year-old male. This year, Casse has six high-class runners including a trio in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
AWESOME SLEW (Dirt Mile): Son of Awesome Again has been proficient around one-turn, recording four of his five career victories in such races. His lone two-turn victory came in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones at Parx in September 2016 when he was able to dictate terms on the front end.
This year he has proven to be at his best closing from off the pace, something he did winning the Grade 3 Ack Ack, a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs.
“That was perfect, what we were looking for, trying to get him a little confidence builder,” Casse said. He’s had success going two turns. I think he’ll have enough speed that he’s not going to get too far out of it going a mile.”
FLAMEAWAY (Juvenile Turf): Son of Scat Daddy has yet to run on turf as both of his scheduled turf starts were rained off to the dirt. He won the Skidmore Stakes going 5 1-2 furlongs in mud at Saratoga and took the Grade 3 Bourbon, despite a late bump, in the slop at Keeneland.
“I sent him to Saratoga to run on the grass, but that didn’t work out,” Casse said. “He trained very well on the grass in Ocala and in Toronto.”
HEAVENLY LOVE (Juvenile Fillies): After winning a maiden race by five sprinting on turf, she took her game to another level with a dominant 5 1-2-length victory in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland on October 6th.
“I thought her race was extremely impressive,” Casse said. “I don’t think you could ask a horse to win any easier than she did. She started pricking her ears at the top of the lane. Heavenly Love has so much class that nothing bothers her.”
GIO GAME (Juvenile Fillies): On the same day that Heavenly Love won the Alcibiades, Gio Game won a maiden race by nine lengths, running 1 1-16 miles in 1:44.74, which was 0.58 of a second faster than Heavenly Love’s time for the same 1 1-16 mile distance.
Gio Game follows a similar pattern to Valadorna last year who finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies following a big maiden win at Keeneland in early October.
“She is our Valadorna of 2017,” Casse said.
At Saratoga in August Gio Game finished third in a two-turn turf race, but was placed second when Significant Form, who crossed the wire first, was disqualified. Significant Form came back to win the Miss Grillo at Belmont and is scheduled to run in Saturday’s Juvenile Fillies Turf.
WONDER GADOT (Juvenile Fillies): Makes her dirt debut after winning a maiden race on turf at Woodbine in August and, two starts later, rolling to a six-length victory in the Grade 3 Mazarine going 1 1-16 miles over Woodbine’s synthetic surface.
Casse said he could have run this daughter of Medaglia d’Oro in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, but didn’t want to run her a mile over a tight-turned turf course.
“The Medaglia d’Oros are good on dirt, she’s trained really well on the dirt and you don’t get the sharp turns,” Casse said.
She breezed twice very well over the dirt at Churchill Downs.
HOLDING GOLD (Turf Sprint): Two starts back, he finished second in the $250,000 Troy Handicap at Saratoga behind Green Mask, who would have been one of the favorites for this race had he not got injured.
Last out, he was sixth, beaten 1 3-4 lengths in the Grade 3 Turf Monster at Parx over soft ground. Casse said he prefers firm turf.
“Not only was it a little soft but he had nowhere to go the entire stretch,” Casse said. “He runs his best race when we give him a little time and we gave him a little extra time for this.”
WORLD APPROVAL (Mile): Enters the Breeders’ Cup in best form of career, having won the Grade 1 Fourstardave over yielding ground in Saratoga in August and the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile over ground labeled firm in September. Overall, he has won four of his last five starts, the loss coming in the 1 1-4-mile Manhattan at Belmont on Belmont Stakes Day.
“I think the tighter course is going to be in our favour,” Casse said. “He’s a real athlete, he shoots around turns. I think right now he’s at the top of his game. Right now he thinks he’s the best in the world.”