Jan. 7, 2014
Casse Looking Forward to First Meet at Oaklawn
Trainer Mark Casse, a five-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s outstanding trainer, has established a base at Oaklawn for the first time since early in his career. His 25-horse string is being overseen by David Adams.
“Hopefully we’ll do well this meet,” said Casse via phone. “We’ve brought a little bit of everything. We have maidens, allowance horses, stakes horses and a few higher level claiming horses. Oaklawn has a great three-year-old program and we have some that we hope can prove themselves. Oaklawn offered us a good way to separate our horses. We’re also at Gulfstream, so we’ll be shipping horses back and forth quite a bit.
“The purses are great and we have a new client, Live Oak Stable, that we will have horses there for.”
Casse is looking to get the meet off to a good start by running John Oxley’s Stealcase in Saturday’s $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes. The 5-year-old Lawyer Ron horse will be making his second start since an extended layoff that forced him to miss nearly his entire 4-year-old campaign. As a 3-year-old, he won the Ontario Derby and counted a third in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational among his stakes placings that year.
“We’re still not completely sure about running, but he’s been working well over the track,” said Casse.
Should Stealcase start in the Fifth Season, he will be ridden by Eurico Da Silva, Woodbine’s leading money rider in 2013, who is spending his first winter in Hot Springs mainly to ride for his Casse, his top client.
The Dixie Belle and Fifth Season Kick off Opening Weekend
The 36th Running of the $100,000 Dixie Belle will highlight opening day, Friday, January 10. The six furlong stakes for three year old fillies closed Friday, January 3 with 34 nominations. Lynn Chleborad who saddled last year’s winner, American Sugar, will try again this year with Xray Vision. Other probables include: Denali Cat Tale for trainer Tim Martin, More Than Beauty for Cecil Borel, Questlie for Tom Burwell, Silver Valley for Ron Moquett, Street Story for Steve Asmussen, and Zip On for trainer Randy Morse.
While some in the field last competed in allowance races and in minor stakes, Zip On is one of a small few that last competed in a graded stakes race. Her last out came in the form of a 6th-place finish in the Grade 3 Delta Princess at Delta Downs in November.
“She’s doing great since she’s been at Oaklawn,” said trainer Randy Morse. “The distance will make a big difference.” After breaking her maiden at six furlongs at Kentucky Downs last summer, Zip On’s most recent starts have been at a mile or longer.
The 26th Running of the $100,000 Fifth Season will run Saturday, January 11 for four-year-olds and upward. The 1 1/16-mile event closed Friday, January 3 with 32 nominations. Donoharm, last year’s Fifth Season and Essex Handicap winner, was nominated and Bret Calhoun and seeks a repeat performance. Other probables include: Big Town for trainer Tim Glyshaw, Cyber Secret for Lynn Whiting, Drogue for Mike Johnson, Jaguar Paw for Stephen Lyster, Right to Vote for Ron Moquett, Stealcase for Mark Casse and Texas Bling for Danele Durham.
Best known for winning the 1992 Kentucky Derby with Lil E. Tee, trainer Lynn Whiting has yet another star in his stable with 2013 Razorback Handicap and Oaklawn Handicap winner Cyber Secret. The 5-year-old son of Broken Vow, owned by Charles J. Cella, most recently set a track record in winning the Prairie Bayou over the polytrack at Turfway Park on December 21. His final time over the mile and one sixteenth was 1:42.26. Trainer Whiting said in response to his performance, “Turfway was a good effort for him. The track was in excellent shape.”
Also a potential Fifth Season starter for Charles J. Cella is Drogue for trainer Mike Johnson. The 6-year-old son of Victory Gallop comes off back-to-back allowance wins at Churchill Downs.
“He’s been training great since we’ve been here,” said Johnson. “He had a super breeze on Saturday. This horse has gotten better the older he gets.”