Sir Winston with jockey Joel Rosario after their Belmont Stakes victory June 8, 2019
Photo Credit: Brittlan Wall
ELMONT, N.Y. – Reigning Grade 1 Belmont Stakes champ Sir Winston and Grade 1 Spinaway winner Perfect Alibi, both owned by Tracy Farmer, breezed Friday morning at Belmont Park for trainer Mark Casse, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer.
Perfect Alibi, bred in Kentucky by Pin Oak Stud, breezed a half-mile from the gate in a swift 47.93 on the dirt training track.
“She worked well and she’s ready to run. We’re just waiting for New York to open,” said Casse.
The dark bay daughter of Sky Mesa won the Grade 2 Adirondack at 6 ½-furlongs and Spinaway at seven furlongs at Saratoga Race Course last summer. Following a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland in October, Perfect Alibi completed a sensational juvenile campaign with a fourth-place effort in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita Park.
While Casse said he would consider the Grade 3 Dogwood, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies on June 6 at Churchill Downs, the Hall of Famer would prefer for Perfect Alibi to make her seasonal debut in New York.
“I’d like to try and run her against straight three-year-olds, but I’d like to keep her in New York and run her there,” said Casse.
Sir Winston, a Tracy Farmer homebred, was clocked five-eighths in 1:03 flat on the Belmont Park main track which opened for training on Tuesday.
“His work got a little messed up this morning, but he’s been training extremely well,” said Casse. “We sent a horse out in front of him and they went too slow early, so the rider just let him go around. We’ll wait a couple of days and breeze him again. Today was just meant to be an easy breeze anyways.
“He’s so ready to go,” added Casse. “We want to run him in New York if we can.”
The Awesome Again chestnut won an optional-claiming tilt in January at the Big A and was a leading contender for the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, initially slated for March 28, which was postponed due to the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Casse has a busy weekend of racing ahead with Gary Barber’s multiple Grade 1-winner Got Stormy set to return in the $75,000 Powder Break as one of seven horses entered for the veteran conditioner on Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Florida.
Casse said he is hoping for firm turf on Saturday although there is rain in the forecast at the Hallandale oval.
“She’s training extremely well, but we’ll see what the weather brings,” said Casse. “She can handle a little give in the turf but her best races are on harder turf.”
Got Stormy finished fourth in her seasonal debut in the Grade 3 Endeavour at Tampa Bay Downs and was second, by a neck, last out in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on March 7 at Santa Anita.
In August, Got Stormy bested the boys in the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave at Saratoga, covering one mile over the firm inner turf in a track record 1:32 flat. Following runner-up efforts in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita, Got Stormy completed a tremendous 4-year-old campaign with a win in the Grade 1 Matriarch at Del Mar.
Casse has eight entries for Opening Weekend at Churchill Downs which will feature on America’s Day at the Races, the nationally-acclaimed broadcast produced by NYRA in partnership with FOX Sports set to air on FS1 / FS2.
(All times Eastern)
Saturday, May 16
1:00 – 2:30 p.m. (FS2)
2:30 – 6:00 p.m. (FS1)
6:00 – 6:30 p.m. (FS2)
Sunday, May 17
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. (FS2)
2:00 – 6:00 p.m. (FS1)
6:00 – 6:30 p.m. (FS2)
Tracy Farmer’s Fly So Pretty, a last-out winner of the Stewart Manor in November at Aqueduct Racetrack, is set to return in a 5 1/2-furlong turf allowance on Saturday. Joel Rosario has the call on the Sky Mesa filly who has trained at Casse Training Center in Florida for her return.
Barber’s Jack and Noah, winner of the Atlantic Beach in November at the Big A, is entered in a turf allowance sprint for sophomores on Sunday at Churchill.
Casse said rain forecast for the Louisville area over the weekend could hamper his plans.
“Fly So Pretty is coming into it well, but there’s weather in the forecast there. Jack and Noah may run [if the races come off the turf], but I don’t think Fly So Pretty would,” said Casse.
Jack and Noah, a French-bred son of Bated Breath who has trained in Florida for this test, will be piloted by Tyler Gaffalione.
The speedy Jack and Noah stretched out for the first time last out in the Texas Turf Mile at Sam Houston and opened up a five-length lead at the half-mile call before fading to fifth.
Casse said a return to sprinting should benefit Jack and Noah.
“He’s an extremely nice horse and very fast but until he learns to relax a little bit, there’s a limit to how far he’ll go,” said Casse. “As he matures and gets older, he might be able to go farther. We tried running him two turns last time out and he just ran off, so we’ll come back to sprinting for now.”
Casse also has John Oxley’s Race Driver, with Florent Geroux named, in the same event as Jack and Noah.
Gary Barber and ERJ Racing’s Patrol, out of graded-stakes winner Jenny’s So Great, is cross-entered at Churchill in a $50,000 claiming sprint on Saturday and without the tag in an allowance-optional claiming sprint on Sunday.
Casse said Patrol, a first-out winner at the Big A in February, will likely go in Sunday’s allowance test. The Liam’s Map grey was bumped out of the gate when making his second career start in April at Gulfstream en route to finishing ninth.
Casse was one of seven new members elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame last week. Heading into the weekend, Casse has won 2,867 races from 17,840 starts in North America according to Equibase.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Casse. “Training horses is all I ever wanted to do since I was a little boy. The thing about the Hall of Fame is that it’s not about being good for just one day, one year or even ten years, it means you’ve done a lot of big things. I’m very honored when I look at the names of the other trainers that I’m now in there with.”
The veteran conditioner, a perennial leading trainer at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, is also a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. He has earned the Sovereign Award as Canada’s Outstanding Trainer on 11 occasions.
Casse identified Gary Barber’s War of Will, who won the 2019 Grade 1 Preakness, second leg of the Triple Crown, after enduring a troubled trip in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby as a career highlight.
“War of Will stands out. After all the turmoil in the Derby – and I’ve said all along it wasn’t about revenge – it was just special to see him show everyone how great he is,” said Casse.
He also highlighted Robert Masterson’s Tepin, who won the Eclipse Award as Champion Grass Mare in 2015-16, as a personal favorite. A winner of five Grade 1 races in North America, Tepin traveled to Ascot in June 2016 to win the Group 1 Queen Anne.
“Tepin winning at Royal Ascot also stands out,” said Casse. “Some great American horses went to Ascot and weren’t able to do what she did.”
And Casse said he will not rest on his laurels as he continues to pursue his goal of winning the Kentucky Derby, which has been moved this year to Saturday, September 5 at Churchill Downs.
“That’s the big one. That first Saturday in September,” said Casse, who has John Oxley’s Enforceable sitting 15th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 33 points.
A maiden winner at Saratoga in August, Enforceable made the grade in the Grade 3 Lecomte in January at Fair Grounds. He has since finished second in the Grade 2 Risen Star and fifth last out in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.
“There’s some very nice horses out there right now and our horse has to step up his game,” said Casse. “I don’t think he would have had a shot on the first Saturday in May. I think he went over the top on us. But I’m hoping by September 5 that he will be back at the top of his game.
“If it doesn’t happen this year, maybe next year,” added Casse. “We’re blessed to have some of the biggest owners in the game and we’ll keep our fingers crossed and keep trying.”
NYRA Press Release