Norman Cash (Coady Photography)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Just one month ago, trainer Norman “Lynn” Cash scored the first graded victory of his career with Double Crown in the Grade 2 Kelso on October 29 at Belmont at the Big A.
The Maryland-bred son of Bourbon Courage will return to the scene of his 42-1 upset triumph to take on the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack, entering the starting gate with stablemate Outlier in hopes of providing Cash with his first Grade 1 victory.
“We’re longshots of course, but five weeks ago Double Crown was 42-1 and we probably won’t be again, so I think we’re ahead,” said Cash. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Double Crown, co-owned by Cash with his wife Lola Cash, has proven well worth the $40,000 Cash paid for the 5-year-old gelding when haltering him out of a close second-place effort in June at Churchill Downs. In addition to the Kelso, Double Crown has also posted an optional claiming victory at Colonial Downs and a runner-up finish in the Polynesian at Pimlico.
“There was nobody more surprised with the Kelso win than I,” Cash said, with a laugh. “He is a completely honest horse and has the talent to run his race. Even if the race is above his talent level, he gives you a solid effort. He runs on short or long rest. He always runs his race. I’m hopeful the Kelso wasn’t a fluke and that he’s moved ahead.”
Cash began training horses last year after spending nearly a decade dabbling in racehorse ownership. The Maryland and Kentucky-based conditioner trains around 50 horses, all of which were claimed and owned by him and his wife. Cash said he claims most of his horses based on back class, as he did with Double Crown.
“I was in the roofing business and turned it over to my sons and got into this. I never thought a year and a half later we’d run in eight or 10 stakes races a month,” said Cash. “These are all claimed horses that we’ve picked up and made happy. Sometimes a change in scenery puts them in a better mood and if they’re happier, they run better. Double Crown is a Maryland-bred, and that was a factor in claiming him. I lean towards back class because there’s been a few maidens I’ve claimed and it didn’t work out. I look for horses who maybe aren’t running as good as they once did.”
Double Crown’s back class includes two stakes wins as a sophomore in Gulfstream Park’s Roar and Carry Back, as well as a pair of graded placings when third in the Grade 3 Smile Sprint and a close second in the Grade 3 Chick Lang, all for former conditioner Kathy Ritvo.
Cash said bringing Double Crown to a mile this year has helped him regain old form.
“I think the one-turn mile has helped him,” said Cash. “He does run on the front end but we like a little pace to close into.”
Cash’s other entrant, Outlier, figures to give Double Crown an honest pace to run at. The son of Not This Time recently posted back-to-back runner-up efforts by slim margins in a one-mile allowance on November 12 at Aqueduct and a 6 1/2-furlong sprint just five days later at Charles Town where he lost by a head after stalking the pace.
“He has probably been ran over his head to keep the pace honest in several allowance races, but the race here two back was an amazing race,” said Cash. “He almost went by the winner in the last 200 yards and he just didn’t give up. If he gets on the lead by himself, his heart grows immensely. He’s running better and better.”
The 4-year-old gelding will be making both his 20th start of the year and his stakes debut, but Cash is confident Outlier is up for the challenge.
“He’s as healthy as can be. He’s up, he’s peppy and he’s a smaller horse who’s up and at it,” said Cash. “He gets out of the gate good and almost won his Charles Town race. He’s a runner.”
Outlier, who boasts a lifetime record of 40-8-4-5, has amassed $256,066
earnings and has won 3-of-22 starts for Cash since being haltered for $50,000 out of a win last November at Churchill Downs.
Cash started the week at Aqueduct on a high note, scoring a $35,000 claiming event with Money Mike in Race 3 on Thursday. While the son of Into Mischief was claimed, Cash said the win gives him confidence going into the Cigar Mile.
“We’ve been having a good meet here,” said Cash. “I’ve got a barn in Kentucky and at Laurel and I’ve decided I’m shipping east with a lot of my Kentucky horses this winter. We step up to the plate more often than we should, but it’s fun.”