Fev Rover Goes for Second Straight G2 Nassau Score

June 26, 2024

Fev Rover and jockey Patrick Husbands winning the Nassau Stakes on July 1, 2023, at Woodbine (Michael Burns Photo)

Matthew Lomon/Woodbine Communications

TORONTO— A pair of Grade 2 turf events, the $200,000 bet365 Highlander, and $175,000 Nassau, share the stage with a trio of other graded stakes as part of the Canada Day Racing Festival, Saturday at Woodbine.  

The world-renowned E.P. Taylor turf will play host to a pair of standout fields in this year’s runnings of one-mile Nassau (for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up) and the six-furlong Highlander (for 4-year-olds and up).

Fev Rover (IRE), Canada’s reigning Horse of the Year, returns to Woodbine with her sights set on a second straight Nassau (G2T) title.

Trained by Mark Casse for owner Tracy Farmer, the 6-year-old daughter of Gutaifan (IRE)-Laurelita (IRE), who also earned Champion Female Turf Horse recognition at the 49th annual Sovereign Awards ceremony in April, exercised great patience before bursting ahead to a 4 ¼-length clearance in last year’s edition of the one-mile, $175,000 turf contest for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up.

No stranger to dominant efforts, the multiple graded stakes-winning Fev Rover has a penchant for outdoing herself on the biggest of stages.  

“I would say the [2023] E.P. Taylor is likely her best performance,” noted Casse, of the 2 ¼-length victory in the 1 ¼-mile affair. “I thought her race in the [2023] Beverly D. was excellent. She was able to do things her way and win that one. Her race in the [2023] Diana was very good. She was third, but maybe with a little better trip, she could have given the winner a run for the money.”

Casse, a dual Hall of Famer, who has conditioned several standouts, including Eclipse Award winners Tepin (also a member of both the Canadian and US horse racing hall of fames), World Approval, and Classic Empire, knows a talented runner when he sees one.

His sense was no different with Fev Rover, but the conditioner with nearly 3,750 career wins understood this one’s ascent to greatness was not going to come overnight.

“It took a long time,” recalled Casse, of the horse purchased by Farmer for nearly $1 million (U.S.) at the 2021 Tattersalls December Mares Sale. “She was as ornery as could be.

“When we first got her from Europe, we could hardly get her to go to the track. She went to Tracy’s farm when she first came and on the first day there, when they turned her out, she cleared the fence, which no horse has ever done there before.” 

Fev Rover’s fiery nature was once again on full display ahead of her most recent trip, the $750,000 New York (G1T) at Saratoga, where she battled through a bout of sensory overload to finish sixth.

“At Saratoga, horses go into a holding barn,” noted Casse. “From there to the paddock, there are people on both sides of you and it can get quite loud. It blows her mind. She can’t handle that. When she made it to the paddock, she was really cranked up. I knew at that point it wasn’t going to be easy for her.

“On the way to the gate [in the New York Stakes], she threw Javier [jockey, Castellano] off twice. Last year in the Diana [also at Saratoga], she threw a fit in the gate.”

The accomplished mare didn’t let a difficult load affect her in the Diana, however, as she was able to respond with a resilient third.

Back on familiar ground at Woodbine (home to six of her 10 North American starts), Fev Rover’s Nassau title defence begins with harnessing her emotions.

“Prior to the E.P. Taylor win, she ran in the Canadian [finishing fourth] and it was maybe the worst performance of her career,” said Casse. “She threw a fit before that race too. 

“She came back a month later and won the E.P. Taylor easily. That day, she behaved.”

Casse, who joined Fev Rover in the Sovereign spotlight as last year’s Outstanding Trainer recipient, compared his dynamic competitor’s desire to win to that of two of the greatest athletes in recent memory.

“She’s tough. Like one of the Williams sisters, Venus or Serena,” he said of the tennis stars. “Both those athletes are tough as nails, so strong and powerful. And that’s Fev Rover.” 

Bred in Ireland by Manister House Stud, Fev Rover made her North American debut on July 24, 2022, in the Dance Smartly (G2T) at Woodbine, finishing second behind 6-5 choice and fellow Emerald Isle native Wakanaka.

Fev Rover comes into the Nassau with a 6-4-3 mark from 21 starts and $1,289,647 (U.S.) in career earnings. 

Other starters include multiple graded stakes winner Millie Girl, Canada’s Champion Older Main Track Female in 2023, as well as graded stakes winners Cairo Consort, who was Canada’s Champion 2-Year-Old Filly in 2022, Full Count Felicia, Safeen (supplemented to the race), and Implicated. Casse will also send out graded stakes-placed Forever Dixie.

Field for the $175,000 Nassau Stakes (G2T) – Race 10

Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer 

1 – Safeen (S) – David Moran – Eddie Kenneally

2 – Implicated – Declan Cannon – Brendan Walsh

3 – Forever Dixie – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse

4 – Devil’s Bit – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Roger Attfield

5 – Mille Girl – Ryan Munger – Catherine Day Phillips

6 – Full Count Felicia – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard

7 – Fev Rover (IRE) – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse

8 – Dana’s Beauty – Luis Contreras – Michael Maker

9 – Cairo Consort – Kazushi Kimura – Kevin Attard

10 – Fast as Flight – Adam Beschizza – Martin Drexler

“For the best in horse racing, I read Past the Wire, and you should read it too.” Tommy Massis, Racehorse owner, Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Champion  

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