Born: Louisville, Kentucky
With Casse Racing since 2007
With bloodlines like his, Norman Casse figured to be a slam-dunk to love the racing industry from the moment he was born. Both of his grandfathers, including Norman Sr. of Cardinal Hill Farm in Ocala, Florida, were trainers and accomplished horsemen.
His father Mark is one of the most successful bloodstock agents-turned trainer in North America and a champion trainer in Canada. As a child, Norman was surrounded by everything equine.
“ I remember I had one of those rocking horses on the springs,” said Norman. “He used to be done up in polo bandages and all that stuff.”
After graduating from Bellarmine University in Louisville with a business degree, Norman was at a crossroads on what career move to make. That is until Derby fever struck. In 2005, Norman accompanied his Dad on their first trip to the Kentucky Derby with a Mark’s first Derby starter – Seaside Retreat.
“The way I felt when I went to the Derby with my Dad, that was it for me, I knew I wanted to try a career in training.”
Norman learned the ropes under Mark's careful eye, and with the help of Mark's other assistant trainers Ricky Griffith and David Adams took out an Assistant Trainers license in 2006. Since then Norman has been responsible for racing Casse Racing horses in the US. He has managed strings at Fairgrounds, Churchill Downs, Saratoga and Keeneland.
“I want to keep learning something new every day,” said Norman. “I will just try to keep getting better as I go along. The best part of my job is learning from my Dad”
David Adams - Assistant Trainer
With Casse Racing since 2000
David Adams was enamored with racehorses in his home country of Barbados. Many of his family members rode or owned horses at nearby Garrison Savannah. From the age of four, David worked around racehorses as a hotwalker and then as a groom.
In 1998, he headed north to Canada and Woodbine racetrack. “I wanted to work with horses at a big circuit track,” said David, whose first job came with trainer Ross Armata.
David worked for several others stables before joining Casse Racing.
It is easy for David to pick out his favourite horse: Exciting Story. David groomed Harry Mangurian’s rugged chestnut colt. who was not only voted Canada’s champion 2-year-old in 1999, but in 2001 won the prestigious Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park as a 50 to 1 longshot.
These days, David plays an important role with Casse Racing as an assistant trainer in charge of schooling horses in the paddock, medications, training charts and setting up tack for the runners in the afternoon.
Now living in Brampton, Ontario, David loves his job as Mark’s assistant and said working with the horses is his life. “Getting to know all the horses is the best part about it,” said David. “And Mark is the best guy I have ever worked for.”
Paul Lehmann - Assistant Trainer
Born: Brantford, Ontario
With Casse Racing since 2002
Paul Lehmann never planned on a career with race horses.
After growing up moving around Africa and the Middle East following his fathers work in telecommunications, Paul returned to Brampton, Ontario. He wasn't even aware of the racetrack until a neighbour asked him to keep a driveway basketball game down because he had to get up early. That neighbor turned out to be a trainer, who brought Paul to the track when he was barely in his teens. There's been no turning back since then!
Paul started out as a hotwalker, and later he worked as a groom for a number of different operations before joining Casse Racing in 2001. Paul's favourite horses during his time as groom were stakes winners Silky Smooth and Cut and Shoot. Paul left grooming behind to become the barn Foreman in 2007.
"I started at zero and learned something from every trainer I worked for. I like the atmosphere in the Casse barn, it's different. It's busy and it's a business."
Paul stays in Canada year round, and is responsible for opening the shedrow and preparing for the upcoming meet. He keeps the shedrow running smoothly each day, dealing with vets, blacksmith and staff issues.
"I enjoy being at the rail, watching the horses train. It's rewarding to see the horses as they develop through the year, and through their careers."