ELMONT, N.Y. – After acing a proverbial quiz with a 3 1/4-length win in Saturday’s Grade 3 Victory Ride at Belmont Park, Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse said Souper Sensational could now be ready for a test – the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test on August 7 at Saratoga that is – after coming out of her effort yesterday in good order.
Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Sensational notched her first career graded stakes score when going five-wide in the upper stretch and surging home under jockey Flavien Prat to win the 6 1/2-furlong main track sprint for 3-year-old fillies. Her win over Ova Charged earned the Curlin filly a personal-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure as she improved her career record to 3-1-1 in seven starts.
Casse had Souper Sensational on the trail for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks earlier in her sophomore campaign, where she finished third in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks in March over a fast track. In her last start, she ran fourth in the Grade 2 Eight Belles in April at Churchill Downs, also over a fast track. The Victory Ride was the first time Souper Sensational ran over a track rated good.
“She’s always shown a lot of talent,” said Casse. “We tried to get her to the Oaks and maybe in retrospect, she might just be a good sprinter type or going a mile. But the race set up for her yesterday and Flavien rode her well. She was impressive.”
In the Eight Belles, Hall of Famer John Velazquez was aboard for the seven-furlong sprint, and the veteran rider told Casse afterwards he was disappointed in the effort based on Souper Sensational’s ability.
“She trained really well into this race. [Assistant trainer] David Carroll, who had her for me at Louisville, thought she trained as well, if not better, than ever coming into the race, and he was right,” Casse said. “The last time she ran at Churchill, Johnny came back and was very frustrated. He said he was following a horse and a horse stopped in front of him and said we should have done a lot better than she did.
“So, we gave her a little break. She had been running hard,” Casse added. “I gave her just a little training beak. Sometimes you don’t have to go home to get a break. We just didn’t do anything with her for a little while. After the race at Churchill, our goal was the Test, and I figured, what’s the best way to get to that race?’ And yesterday was a great step.”
The Longines Test for sophomore fillies is held at seven furlongs. Casse said Souper Sensational was headed upstate to the Spa to begin training for that contest next month.
“She got a 95 Beyer, which is very good for a 3-year-old filly. If you consider the wide trip too, it was impressive,” Casse said reflecting on the Victory Ride. “She’s now headed to Saratoga this morning and we’ll look at the Test.”
John C. Oxley’s Palazzi had a troubled trip and finished sixth in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational at 1 1/4 miles on the inner turf. After breaking from the inside post under Tyler Gaffalione in the nine-horse field, Palazzi could not find racing room until it was too late, finishing 3 1/4 lengths behind winner Bolshoi Ballet. It was the third time in six starts Palazzi drew the inside post in a stakes race.
“Poor Palazzi, he can’t catch a break,” Casse said. “He drew the one-hole again and there wasn’t anything Tyler did wrong, but there was nowhere to go and there was too much to do when he finally got loose. I guess we’ll go to the next big one in Saratoga.”
With the Belmont Derby Invitational serving as the first leg of the Turf Triple series, the “big one” at Saratoga will host the middle jewel of the series, with the Grade 1, $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational at 1 3/16 miles set for Whitney Day on August 7.
Casse’s other entry in a Turf Triple race, Spanish Loveaffair, ran last-of-eight in the Grade 1, $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/4 miles on the inner turf. Casse didn’t pick up a next spot yet but said a shorter distance could suit the Karakontie filly better. Spanish Loveaffair is owned by Gary Barber, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael Hernon.
“I just think we’re going to cut her back and go a mile,” Casse said. “She wants a race where there’s a little more pace. The problem is the further you run, the less pace there is. She was just too rambunctious early on yesterday.”
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Souper Sensational winning the Victory Ride on July 10, 2021 at Belmont. (Janet Garaguso)