Casse loaded for Breeders’ Cup; G1 Belmont Stakes Winner Sir Winston Back to Work
Photo Credit: Adam Mooshian Feature
Mark Casse boasts a strong Breeders’ Cup contingent, led by Grade 1 Preakness-winner War of Will (Classic) and Grade 1 Fourstardave champ Got Stormy (Mile). Additional Casse contenders include Perfect Alibi (Juvenile Fillies), Two Sixty (Juvenile Fillies) and Peace Achieved (Juvenile Turf). Jack and Noah and Proven Strategies are on the overflow list for the Juvenile Turf Sprint and Juvenile Turf, respectively.
Gary Barber’s War of Will joins a talented group in a wide open edition of the Grade 1, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic set for Saturday, November 2 at Santa Anita Park.
The War Front bay contested all three legs of the Triple Crown including a troubled effort in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby where he was placed seventh; a subsequent redemption with a 1 1/4-length score in the Grade 1 Preakness; and an off-the-board effort in the Belmont Stakes.
War of Will has since finished fifth in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga and third in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx.
War of Will breezed a half-mile in 47.40 on Friday morning at Santa Anita.
“I thought he went extremely well,” said Casse. “I think he looks great but he’s got to pick up his game. He’s going to need his A plus game. We figure if he comes with it, he’s got a shot. It’s tough. He’s playing against the older boys now.”
Got Stormy has posted four consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures dating back to a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Rule at Churchill Downs in May. She followed that effort with a score in the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose on August 3 at Saratoga; a track-record setting score against the boys in the Grade 1 Fourstardave; and a last-out second in a swiftly-run Grade 1 Woodbine Mile on September 14.
Casse said the lengthy stretch run of the Woodbine turf course was not to Got Stormy’s advantage last out.
“I thought her Woodbine Mile was good,” said Casse. “She’s a true miler. She can get a little farther if the turf is really hard, but she had two things against her last time – the turf had some give to it; and a mile turf race at Woodbine is not like a mile anywhere else. One of her strong suits is her ability to quicken and it’s not as effective on that long stretch. She will be much more effective at Santa Anita and I would think we will get a hard, firm turf course there as well.”
Perfect Alibi posted back-to-back graded stakes sprint wins at Saratoga this summer under Irad Ortiz, Jr., taking the Grade 2 Adirondack at 6 1/2-furlongs and the Grade 1 Spinaway going seven furlongs. Last out, with Jose Ortiz up, in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades, the dark bay daughter of Sky Mesa ran second to British Idiom.
Casse said Perfect Alibi didn’t handle the Keeneland surface last out.
“I think she struggled with the track at Keeneland. It was opening day and the track was very loose,” said Casse.
“I knew down the backside she was going to struggle because the pace wasn’t that fast and Jose was having to ask her to keep up. When she won the Adirondack and the Spinaway, she was into the bit with much faster splits. I thought Jose rode her well but we’re excited to get Irad back.”
Two Sixty, a Florida-bred daughter of the Casse-trained multiple graded-stakes winner Uncaptured, has won two of four starts, all at Gulfstream Park, including a last-out score in the Florida Sire My Dear.
In her two non-winning efforts, Two Sixty ran third in the slop on August 9 and lost her rider on August 31.
“The race where she lost the rider, she was in a good place and a horse bumped her and it may have knocked her off stride a bit and Zayas went flying,” said Casse. “One thing about her, in the races where she’s had a good trip she’s won impressively. Obviously, she hasn’t run against the company she’ll face next, but the colt who won the other have of the division [Chance It, Reality Stakes], he ran a fifth of a second faster but had a few 90 Beyers coming into that race.”
“I think her Beyer puts her right in there with everybody and in her second time going two turns, she should improve,” added Casse. “A lot of the other fillies have yet to go two turns”.
Two Sixty breezed four furlongs in 48 flat on Friday at Santa Anita.
“She worked well,” said Casse. “Aaron Gryder worked her for us. They had just put up a big white tent in the infield and Aaron said she was watching that tent for a quarter of a mile. You can see her cocking her head and she lost focus. I’d call War of Will’s work this morning an A plus and Two Sixty’s work a B.”
JSM Equine’s Peace Achieved is on a three-race win streak heading into the Juvenile Turf, including a maiden win at Ellis Park on July 27; a 2 1/2-length score in the Juvenile at Kentucky Downs; and a narrow neck win the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland last out on October 6.
Tracy Farmer’s Sir Winston, last seen capturing the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 8, returned to the work tab at Casse Training Center on Wednesday, breezing three furlongs in 37.40 seconds.
The Awesome Again chestnut graduated at Woodbine Racetrack last September and two starts later captured the Display, both going two turns on Tapeta. After finishing off-the-board in pair of Kentucky Derby preps, Sir Winston re-routed to Belmont where he rallied for second in the Grade 3 Peter Pan ahead of his Belmont Stakes win.