FRANKLIN, Ky.— Peace Achieved started his career with three straight wins: a debut victory at Ellis Park, the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile and Keeneland’s Bourbon. While he’s been competitive, three years later he still awaits that fourth victory. Trainer Norm Casse hopes it happens in Thursday’s $400,000 FanDuel Tapit Stakes back at Kentucky Downs. That’s where Peace Achieved finished a respectable fourth in the Dueling Grounds Derby.
The 5-year-old horse, in his first start in 13 months and the first since joining Casse’s stable, was a rallying fourth in Horseshoe Indianapolis’ Jonathan B. Schuster Memorial.
“He’s been training really well, but he’s been one of those tough-luck horses,” said Casse, whose father, Mark, previously trained Peace Achieved. “He was sent to me with the intention of running here (at Churchill Downs) on grass. He’s strictly grass. Obviously that didn’t work out with the way turf course is here.
“I thought he ran a really good race back off a huge layoff at Indiana. We were forced to run in a stakes because that was the only option for him. Then when we got him up to Saratoga, the intention was to run him in an allowance race up there, and the schedule just never worked out. He was up at Saratoga breezing really well (on turf), and we think this is an ideal spot at Kentucky Downs, especially considering he’s run there and won there.”
Casse isn’t prepared to say the Dueling Grounds Derby’s 1 5/16-mile distance got the best of Peace Achieved. The Tapit is a mile and 70 yards.
“I think the jury is still out on what he wants to do, as far as if he’s a miler or wants to run longer,” he said. “I don’t remember that race, as far as if he had a troubled trip or anything like that. When you get to run for $400,000 in a restricted stakes, you take the opportunity. I’m pretty excited about seeing how he runs.”
Peace Achieved is one of several graded-stakes winners in the field.
“You certainly knew going in that it was going to be a legitimate stakes race,” Casse said. “But at the same time, we could run him in a (third-level allowance race) either at Kentucky Downs or wait for Keeneland. I figured: We know he’s doing extremely well. We know he likes that course. Here’s an opportunity. And if he doesn’t win, we can always come back in a ‘3 other than’ at Keeneland.
“But this is the perfect spot to run for a lot of money. I feel that condition (non-winners of a stakes on the year) is ideal for a horse like him. It’s actually made for a horse like him. We’d feel a lot more confident if he had a regular race schedule, but that just hasn’t worked out. Fingers crossed now that starting Thursday we can get him into a real race pattern where we can run him every month, instead of having these little mini layoffs.”
As for why Peace Achieved was off for so long: “They just thought he was sour and wanted to give him some time off,” Casse said. “There was never anything significant. Then it became longer through circumstances… This horse has tested our patience a little bit, but it really was one of those deals where our hands have been tied.”
By Jennie Rees – Kentucky Downs Press Release
Photo: Peace Achieved winning the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile back in 2019 (Coady Photography)