Casse eyeing Rebel for Siding Spring

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TwinSpires Staff

February 19th, 2016

Edited Press Release

Trainer Mark Casse said Thursday morning that he was leaning toward running Siding Spring in the $900,000 Rebel (G2) on March 19 at Oaklawn.

Siding Spring, in his three-year-old debut, finished fifth, beaten 6 1/2 lengths under Joe Rocco Jr., in Monday’s Southwest (G3).

An 11th-hour entrant in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest, Siding Spring led through splits of :23.10, :47.06 and 1:12.30 for six furlongs. It was the colt’s first start since an unplaced effort in his dirt debut, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on October 31 at Keeneland, and first start in blinkers.

Casse said Siding Spring was also racing in a regular shoe after previously using a bar shoe because of an “old quarter-crack.” The trainer said he was “very happy” with Siding Spring’s performance in the Southwest and “shocked” how fast he was.

“It’s been kind of a strange winter with him,” Casse said. “He just went for a long time where he just wasn’t himself, and he just started coming around. We contemplated not running him, but we decided that it could only help him and I’ll think he’ll come out of that race a much better horse. It was a crazy race.”

Casse said he believed Siding Spring “might win” at the Southwest half-mile pole. Siding Spring was passed by four horses in the stretch, including last-to-first winner Suddenbreakingnews, then galloped out past the same four horses.

“I don’t know what that was all about,” Casse said with a laugh. “Joe said, ‘I don’t know.’ He said it’s like he caught his breath and then took off again. I mean, he went out strong.”

Casse said if Siding Spring doesn’t run in the Rebel, he’ll be pointed for an allowance race around the same time.

In related news, trainer Kenny Smith said Gordy Florida will return to sprints following his 10th-place finish in the Southwest.

Gordy Florida won his first two career starts sprinting last year at Remington Park before just missing by a neck when second in his two-two debut in the one-mile Smarty Jones at Oaklawn on January 18.

Siding Spring photo courtesy of Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography