Photo: Kentucky HBPA
The Turf Publicists of America (TPA) announced today that the 2019 Big Sport of Turfdom award, which recognizes a person or group of people who enhances coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with media and racing publicists, will be presented to trainer Mark Casse.
Mark Casse, who was born into the business as the son of Norman Casse, an owner, trainer and breeder for more than 40 years as well as the former chairman of Ocala Breeders’ Sales, achieved a career milestone in 2019 when he won his first Triple Crown race when War of Will rebounded from a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby (G1) to win the Preakness Stakes (G1). Three weeks later, Casse won his second Triple Crown race when Sir Winston pulled the upset over his stablemate, War of Will, and the highly regarded Tacitus by winning the Belmont Stakes (G1).
“Mark Casse exemplifies the essence of the Big Sport of Turfdom award,” TPA President Amy Gregory said. “Mark is generous with his time and accessibility, making himself available during both the highs and lows of racing, always offering humor and candor. He is a favorite among Turf writers and a popular ambassador among racing fans. We congratulate Mark on his outstanding season, highlighted by his Triple Crown race wins with War of Will and Sir Winston, and on winning this year’s award.”
The Big Sport of Turfdom award will be presented to Casse at the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program’s annual awards luncheon on Dec. 10. The luncheon is part of the 2019 Symposium on Racing & Gaming at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Ariz.
The luncheon is included in registration fees for the symposium. Additional information about the luncheon may be obtained by contacting TPA Secretary/Treasurer Dave Zenner.
Casse, who was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2016, was touched to learn he was receiving this award because of the respect and appreciation from members of Turf Publicists of America.
“This is a very nice honor,” Casse said. “I truly appreciate it.”
Casse has earned the Sovereign Award as Canada’s top trainer a record 11 times and has trained 29 Sovereign Award winners, including five Canadian Horses of the Year. His Eclipse Award winners include two-time champion female turf runner Tepin, champion female sprinter Shamrock Rose and champion 2-Year-Old male Classic Empire.
The Big Sport of Turfdom has been presented annually since 1966. This is the first time Casse has won the award.
Last year’s award was given posthumously to John Asher, the longtime Vice President of Communications at Churchill Downs, who died suddenly in August 2018. Other previous winners include jockeys Mike Smith, Pat Day, Chris McCarron, Bill Shoemaker, Angel Cordero Jr., Eddie Arcaro and Gary Stevens; trainers Art Sherman, Bob Baffert, D. Wayne Lukas and Jack Van Berg; and other individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport, such as Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, a two-time winner; announcer Tom Durkin, author Laura Hillenbrand, broadcaster Jim McKay, Turf writer Joe Hirsch and actors Tim Conway and Jack Klugman.
A complete list of past Big Sport of Turfdom winners can be found online at http://www.turfpublicists.com/awards.html