Statistics for 2013 - January 1 to December 31
679 128 96 78 $8,565,108 19 % 51 %

Casse wins third straight Soverign Award, 6th overall

The Champions of 2013 were announced at Friday nights  Sovereign Awards ceremony at Woodbine Racetrack.

Trainer Mark Casse won his third consecutive outstanding trainer award, and his sixth overall, and also saw his trainee Sisterly Love capture the older female division after she recorded wins in the Trillium and Grade 3 Ontario Matron stakes.

One of Casse’s top owners, John Oxley, was named outstanding owner for the second consecutive year after leading all owners with nine stakes wins and earnings of just over $2.5 million at Woodbine and Fort Erie in 2013.

Older female – Sisterly Love 123, Part the Seas 71, Moonlit Beauty 42, Madeira Park 21

Outstanding owner – John Oxley 127, Sam-Son Farm 62, Bear Stables Ltd. 36, Tucci Stables 15

Outstanding trainer – Mark Casse 144, Reade Baker 54, Malcolm Pierce 25, Nicholas Gonzalez 11


Sisterly Love stuns Emollient in Doubledogdare Stakes
The huge Keeneland spring meet being enjoyed by jockey Stewart Elliott and trainer Mark Casse got an exclamation point Friday when they teamed to win the Grade 3, $100,000 Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland.

Sisterly Love, the 8-1 third choice, looked 7-10 favorite Emollient right in the eye and pulled away from her in the stretch before holding off a torrid outside run by 25-1 shot Moment in Dixie to capture the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race by a neck.

Emollient, ridden by Mike Smith, dueled for the lead most of the way outside of Sisterly Love before settling for third, another neck back, with Strathnaver another length back in fourth in a field of 10 fillies and mares.

Owned by Gary Barber, Sisterly Love returned $18 after finishing in 1:43.82. It was the speedy bay mare’s second win at the meet, following an allowance score two weeks beforehand.

Sisterly Love “was right where we wanted her,” said Elliott. “She was comfortable the whole way. At the quarter pole, it looked like Mike was asking already. I said, ‘Man, I’ve got a chance.’ And I did. She finished up.”

Casse, a six-time Sovereign Award winner in Canada, and Elliott, a Canadian native best known for his work 10 years ago with Smarty Jones, have been among the leaders in their respective categories since opening weekend.

Through Friday, the 11th of 15 programs at the meet, Casse held a tenuous one-win lead atop the trainer standings, while Elliott trailed only Julien Leparoux atop the jockey standings.

Sisterly Love, a 6-year-old Kentucky-bred by Bellamy Road, has won half of her 14 career starts and earned $427,004.

Emollient was the heavy favorite based on her only two prior starts over the Keeneland Polytrack, Grade 1 wins last year in the Ashland and Spinster at age 3.

After the top four, the order was Solid Appeal, Ire, Noble Charlotte, Gold Medal Dancer, Sisterhood, and Pearl Turn. Dixie Strike was an early scratch.

The $2 exacta (7-2) paid $396.20, the $1 trifecta (7-2-10) returned $844.40, and the 10-cent superfecta (7-2-10-11) was worth $423.17.

Ontrack attendance on a warm, mostly cloudy afternoon was 20,884.

The spring meet ends next Friday, with action moving to Churchill Downs the following evening.

Zensational Bunny stalks and pounces in Star Shoot
Ron Gierkink, DRF
The Mark Casse-trained Zensational Bunny notched her second stakes victory in the $144,000 Star Shoot on Saturday at Woodbine, giving Patrick Husbands his third winner on the card.
Zensational Bunny stalked the leader Shanagarry, who set honest fractions in the six-furlong sprint. Zensational Bunny hit the front in midstretch and drew clear en route to a 1 3/4-length tally in 1:10.22. A closing Paladin Bay edged out Shanagarry by a neck for second in a field reduced to eight after the scratches of Madly Truly and Wild N Clever.
“She’s a very aggressive filly,” said Husbands. “She left there running, and I just played it by ear. There was speed on the inside of me, but no pressure on the outside. She relaxed down the backside, and when I called on her, she gave me everything.”
Zensational Bunny paid $8.70, and earned $75,000 for owner Gary Barber. The daughter of Zensational was bred by Bob Baffert and Lanni Bloodstock.
Dynamic Impact takes Illinois Derby in quick time

Marcus Hersch, DRF

Dynamic Impact, who scored a narrow maiden victory March 1 in his fifth career start, ran down heavily favored Midnight Hawk to win the Grade 3, $500,000 Illinois Derby by a nose in a very tight photo finish Saturday at Hawthorne.

Four Footed Fotos
Dynamic Impact (1), ridden by Miguel Mena, noses out Midnight Hawk in the Illinois Derby.

“With those head bobs, you never know,” said winning rider Miguel Mena.

The top two were far, far better than the other six in the field. Irish You Well, now a seven-race maiden, finished third, more than eight lengths behind Midnight Hawk. While the light resume of the winner and show horse calls into question the overall strength of the race, Dynamic Impact ran nine furlongs in 1:49.07 over a fast main track producing quick but not lightning-fast times. The winner’s clocking was the fastest Illinois Derby since Recapturetheglory went 1:49.01 winning the 2008 edition.

Dynamic Impact debuted last September and finished fourth, second, and sixth in his three starts as a juvenile. He was an improved second making his 3-year-old bow on Jan. 30 at Oaklawn before scoring a neck victory in a maiden race there March 1, his last start before Saturday’s win.

“As a 2-year-old, he obviously had talent, but he wasn’t quite performing,” said assistant trainer Norman Casse, who credited trainer Mark Casse’s Oaklawn-based assistant David Adams for bringing the colt along this winter and spring.

Midnight Hawk, the 2-5 favorite, bobbled just after the start but quickly recovered and was sent up to lead, setting moderate splits of 24.11 seconds, 48.06, and 1:12.19 as Dynamic Impact pursued in second along the inside. Dynamic Impact was saving ground, but he wasn’t happy pinned down at the rail, Mena said, and Mena felt his mount was running in place until he tipped him off the fence to take aim at Midnight Hawk coming into the long Hawthorne homestretch.

“At the quarter pole when I went outside, I started to get excited,” said Mena, who had worked Dynamic Impact but never ridden him in a race.”

Midnight Hawk, with Martin Garcia heartily encouraging, actually stayed on fairly well in the homestretch, getting his final three furlongs in 36.88 seconds, but he had his head turned, was trying to lug in a bit, and – for the fourth race in a row – generally gave the impression of a horse who could benefit from a switch to one-turn racing.

“I think he got a little tired,” Garcia said.

Dynamic Impact paid $21.20 as the race’s fourth choice. Behind Irish You Well in third came Class Leader, King Cyrus, A Step Ahead, Emmett Park, and Global Strike. Dynamic Impact, a son of Tiznow,  was bred by Blue Heaven Farm, sold at auction as a yearling for $125,000, and is owned by John Oxley.

Norman Casse said Dynamic Impact was to ship back to Keeneland on Saturday night, and would soon be stabled at Churchill Downs. Casse said the Preakness Stakes in four weeks was an obvious consideration, but that no plans beyond Saturday’s race had been formulated.