Norman Casse reflects on BC wins & discusses plans for Tepin, other stable stars
Edited Press Release
Breeders’ Cup weekend was without question a big one for the Mark Casse barn. Not only was the trainer finally able to taste Breeders’ Cup success for the first time, but did so twice last week.
Catch a Glimpse was victorious in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) while Tepin beat males in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) on Saturday, being only the fifth filly or mare to do so.
Assistant trainer Norman Casse, who oversees his father, Mark’s, Churchill string, reflected on this accomplishment and went on to discuss other accomplishments throughout the month of October outside of the Breeders’ Cup victories.
“The Breeders Cup races are very hard to get into to begin with and they’re very hard to win,” Norman Casse said. “It’s been about two or three that we probably should have won with better trips so it wasn’t like we had been running bad – we just couldn’t get over the hump.
“It’s been a few days now and I think it’s still sinking in. It’s really been an incredible run; it’s actually been a huge month. We won the Grade 1 (First Lady) with Tepin in which she galloped. We won the training title at Keeneland, which was a tremendous honor. And then at the end of October we win two Breeders’ Cup races. So it has been a tremendous month altogether.”
It wasn’t all good times for the Casse barn this year, however. The stable suffered through a frustrating summer meet at Saratoga where Casse won three races from 42 starts and ran second eight times, two of which were with Tepin.
“It really just shows you that you got to keep running and you got to keep doing what you’re doing,” Casse said. “Saratoga was one of those deals where we were running well, we just weren’t winning. It got pretty frustrating at times, but when all the chips were down our horses were doing everything that they needed to do on the big days.”
As many American trainers would agree with, the Breeders’ Cup turf races can often times be the toughest to win for trainers based in North America because of the strong European presence in such races. This, according to Casse, makes the barn’s two victories that much more special.
“What I think is most gratifying is that all you hear is about how much better the Europeans are and how they do things better than we do,” he said. “It’s almost like American racing is second tier to them and to beat their best is the most gratifying part of the whole weekend.
“I mean, Tepin is considered to be one of the best in the world now, and anytime that you’re the best in the world at something, that’s pretty special.”
While both Casse-trained fillies are enjoying some down time at Moon Shadow Farm in Ocala, Florida, Casse says that a 2016 campaign in the process of being mapped for both horses.
If all goes well for Tepin, she could potentially face the boys once more on the Keeneland lawn in next year’s Makers 46 Mile (G1) before racing in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on Kentucky Derby weekend.
“We’re thinking about that (Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile), and we may even run in the Makers Mark Mile,” Casse said. “Keeneland seems to be her favorite turf course and she’s proven that she can beat the boys, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t go back and do it again. Right now, the long term goal is the race on the Derby undercard.”
Casse went on to discuss plans for some of his two-year-olds that competed in the Breeders’ Cup last weekend.
Conquest Big E, eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), and Airoforce, second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), could make their next starts on Churchill Downs’ closing weekend in the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) on November 28.
“I’m still not losing hope with him (Conquest Big E) and we’d like to try Airoforce on the dirt before he goes down (to Florida), so we’re thinking about running him in the (Kentucky) Jockey Club as well,” Casse explained. “As long as they’re training well and they don’t look like they got too much taken out of them, they’ll run at the end of the meet.”
Tepin photo courtesy of Jamie Newell/Horsephotos.com