12,444 2002 1,839 1,645 $109,921,154 16 % 45 %
2016 - to June 1
455 81 77 63 $5,604,064 17 % 45 %

As Tepin Thrives, High Hopes for Talented Stablemate
Ben Massam, TDN
Nearly two weeks removed from Tepin (Bernstein)’s monumental victory in the G1 Queen Anne S. at Royal Ascot, trainer Mark Casse is understandably still amazed by his champion mare. But as any veteran conditioner will tell you–especially one with multiple stables situated across the eastern seaboard–there is very little time to rest before the next important race comes up. Although Casse has a number of stakes runners penciled in for the coming extended weekend, the Canadian Hall of Fame trainer admitted that he has particularly high aspirations for the lightly raced 3-year-old Conquest Enforcer (Into Mischief), who could potentially take on older turfers in the GII King Edward S. Saturday.

“He’s going to run in either the King Edward or the Charley Barley [for 3-year-olds July 3],” Casse said of the Conquest Stables colorbearer. “I think he’s as good on grass [as he is on synthetic], and if he’s as good as we think he is, I wanted to open up his options–and the best way to do that is to run him on the grass… It’s still a long way to go, but we think he’s one of the most talented horses we’ve ever had. We believe that he can compete at the highest level. I won’t even risk trying him on the dirt–we already know he can run on the grass.”

Casse’s confidence in Conquest Enforcer has been evident since day one and was bolstered by feedback from rider Patrick Husbands, who said that the bay was the most gifted horse he had ever sat on. The $210,000 Fasig-Tipton July yearling purchase reported home an even fourth on debut in the GII Summer S. at Woodbine Sept. 12 and followed with a dominant tally in the restricted Cup and Saucer S. over the lawn Oct. 11. Given ample time to mature during a winter layup, Conquest Enforcer recently returned to action with a seemingly effortless victory in the seven-furlong Queenston S. on the synthetic track at Woodbine, clobbering his rivals by 7 3/4 lengths [video].

Given Conquest Enforcer’s plenteous talents, Team Casse has made a deliberate effort to remain patient and play to the sophomore’s strengths. Such a strategy has swayed them away from any temptation to enter in Sunday’s 10-furlong Queen’s Plate S., a race that occasionally taxes horses’ energy levels in the ensuing months.

“He’s a real pretty horse,” Casse explained. “He looks more like a seven-eighths or miler [type]. He’s more of a running back or fullback-looking horse–the best way to describe them is as football players. He’s a beautiful horse, a massive horse. When he runs, you look and you think he’s going five-eighths in 1:02 and he goes in :58. That’s what has us excited.”

Although Conquest Enforcer will not be in the starting gate for the Queen’s Plate, Casse will be represented in the Classic by once-beaten Leavem in Malibu (Malibu Moon), who enters off two consecutive wins around two turns.

“I don’t think you could ask a horse to be doing any better,” Casse asserted. “He’s only had three starts, which is a bit of a disadvantage, but I’ll say he’s experienced a lot in those three starts… I don’t think you could look at a horse in the Queen’s Plate that would enjoy a mile and a quarter as much as him. He just kind of gets going after a mile.”

As for Robert Masterson’s Tepin, Casse said the celebrated mare continues to take everything in stride, including the rigorous travel schedule that just recently brought her back to her customary stall at Churchill Downs.

Tepin with Julien Leparoux up wins the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot racecourse, England, GB, 06.14.2016

    Tepin | Horsephotos

“She’s amazing,” the trainer said. “I actually think she likes it, she likes getting around the world. She’s been on quite a trip. She’s now back in Kentucky with [assistant] Norman [Casse] and Rosa [Jimenez], her groom, who she loves and has had her since the beginning. We’re just going to let her tell us how she handled the trip. She’ll go to Saratoga. It’s something we’ll talk about with Mr. Masterson, but there’s a possibility she could make the [GII Ballston Spa S. Aug. 27], and the other race we’re interested in is the [Sept. 17 GI] Woodbine Mile.”

Norman Casse knows Tepin better than anyone, according to his father, who also said the younger Casse would play an integral role in mapping out her course for the remainder of the year. And while the conditioner acknowledged that Tepin was defeated twice at Saratoga last summer–the only two losses in her last 12 starts–the trainer has no doubt that the dark bay has taken her game to an entirely new level in 2016.

“The Tepin we have now is much better than the Tepin we had last year,” Casse continued. “If you look at horses that were running close to her and she was barely beating [last year], she’s now destroying those horses.”

Highlighting the importance of treating every horse as a unique athlete, Casse is understandably delighted to have a horse that relishes competition and activity like Tepin.

Queen’s Plate: Casse has solid contender in Leavem in Malibu
Alex Campbell, DRF
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Last year, trainer Mark Casse looked to have a strong contingent pointing toward the Queen’s Plate. Danzig Moon had run fifth behind American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby, Conquest Curlinate was second in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes, and Conquest Boogaloo was a troubled third in the Plate Trial.
Only one of those horses made it to the Plate, however. Danzig Moon fatally broke down in the Plate Trial, while Conquest Curlinate suffered a career-ending injury in a freak training accident in the week leading up to the Queen’s Plate. The one who did make it to the Plate, Conquest Boogaloo, was shut off leaving the starting gate and finished third behind Shaman Ghost and Danish Dynaformer.
This year, Casse has just one horse pointing toward the Queen’s Plate, but Leavem in Malibu, a full brother to Danzig Moon, looks to be among the favorites.
Leavem in Malibu left the sales ring at $140,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale but did not meet his reserve. Casse wound up purchasing him privately for owner Conrad Farms after the sale. At the same time, Danzig Moon was gearing up for his first career start at Keeneland on Oct. 3.
“We knew Danzig Moon was training very well and this horse was a Canadian-bred,” Casse said. “Obviously, his pedigree intrigued me for the same reason it intrigued me when I bought Danzig Moon, but he looks nothing like Danzig Moon. I remember telling the Conrads when I bought him that I had a full brother to this horse that we thought was a really good horse.”
Casse said Leavem in Malibu’s size prevented him from making the races as a 2-year-old. But from what he had seen in his training sessions last year, Casse knew he had a horse with potential.
“He’s huge,” Casse said. “He just had this and that wrong with him, nothing major. I told the Conrads in June or July of his 2-year-old year that I thought they had a Queen’s Plate horse. This horse acts like he’s a good horse.”
Leavem in Malibu debuted in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint at Woodbine in April but broke slowly under jockey Gary Boulanger. He did make a closing run late but finished third behind More Data. Casse was still pleased with the effort.
“We want to win any time we can win, but I always tell my riders, especially with young horses and first-time starters, I’d rather it be a closing fourth than a dying third,” he said. “I like my horses to learn to run by horses. Unfortunately, he broke a little slow. I don’t really know why. He broke well in the mornings before that. But Gary’s ridden for me for a long, long time, and he knows what I want. He just let him get himself together, and he came running.”
The effort set up Leavem in Malibu nicely for a start around two turns May 1, and he won comfortably by 4 1/4 lengths. Casse said Leavem in Malibu’s third-place finish in the sprint might have been the best-case scenario.
“It was probably a blessing because it gave us the ability then to run him back against maidens going two turns,” he said. “Had he won [his first start], we would have had to go to two turns against winners.”
After the maiden win, Casse tried to find an allowance race against 3-year-olds, but several races in the condition book didn’t fill. That forced Casse to run Leavem in Malibu against older horses May 29. Leavem in Malibu won that allowance race by 2 3/4 lengths, but Casse said he didn’t appear to handle the track that day.
“It was loose, so it was throwing back, and I think it started hitting him in the face,” he said. “It was a nice learning experience because in the Queen’s Plate, he’s going to have some stuff thrown at him. Hopefully, it’s a little firmer than what it has been. That will make him like it that much more.”
Since that start, Leavem in Malibu has been working well for the Queen’s Plate. In his most recent work June 18, Leavem in Malibu broke behind a workmate but finished strongly down the lane, covering five furlongs in 59 seconds flat.
Going into the Queen’s Plate, Casse is confident that Leavem in Malibu will handle the longer distance.
“I think if there’s anyone that’s going to cherish the mile and a quarter, I think it will be him,” he said.