Mark Casse, who won the 2014 Queen’s Plate with Lexie Lou, will send out Conquest Boogaloo and Oakton in Sunday's $1-million classic as he looks to defend his title in the 'Gallop for the Guineas.'
A third Casse trainee, Conquest Curlinate, was expected to be among the favourites for the 1 1/4-mile test, but was withdrawn following a morning training accident.
"He's getting around fine, it's just unfortunate," said Casse of Conquest Curlinate. "He cracked the bottom of his sesamoid. We've already taken phone calls about him becoming a stallion prospect.”
The Curlin grey graduated in impressive fashion at Oaklawn Park in February and later posted a trio of excellent place efforts when defeated just a nose, in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby to Whiskey Ticket; missing by a length to Madefromlucky in the Grade 2 Peter Pan; and again in the Plate Trial, just three-quarters of a length behind Queen's Plate favourite Danish Dynaformer.
"I think he'd be a great stallion in Ontario. He's a Curlin, a beautiful horse and raced against some of the best three-year-olds on the continent," said Casse of the Conquest Stables charge. "It's disappointing, but it's also a beginning."
Conquest Boogaloo, also owned by Conquest Stables, finished a closing third in the Plate Trial after encountering traffic trouble when veering to avoid the ill-fated Danzig Moon.
"'Boogaloo' is doing great. I was really pleased with him this week," said Casse.
Conquest Boogaloo breezed in company with Field of Courage on June 28, covering five furlongs in 1:01.40. The rail-breezing Field of Courage appeared to get the better of the workout, but Casse was pleased with the effort of both horses.
"Anytime you work two horses together, if one horse has speed, they have a big advantage going five-eighths of a mile," explained Casse. "For 'Boogaloo' to be competitive, he needs the pace scenario to set up for him. With 'Boogaloo', all winter long, I don't know that he ever won a work."
Field of Courage breezed five furlongs over Woodbine's dirt training track this morning in a swift 1:00 flat, best of 17 efforts at the distance.
"I was really impressed. He's going to the Prince of Wales Stakes," said Casse.
Flying under the radar this week is the other Casse charge, Oakton. The Macho Uno grey, to be ridden by Tyler Pizarro for owners Bill and Vicki Poston Racing Inc., will leave from post two. Last time out, the maiden winner finished a good fourth in a 1 1/8-mile allowance route while tackling older company.
"I think Oakton is going to surprise everybody. His last race is much better than it looks," said Casse of the prominent colt. "He's not there just to set a pace. He's there to win. His best race was on the lead though, so he'll be up there."