TORONTO, July 20 – Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse will saddle a pair of horses in both Sunday stakes including the turf Toronto Cup and main track Shady Well Stakes, at Woodbine.
Casse is maintaining a strong lead in the trainer tables with 39 wins from 196 starts, 15 wins clear of fellow condition Norm McKnight, and will send out Conquest Lemonraid and King and His Court in the Toronto Cup while Mo Big Cat and Moka Latte will represent in the Shady Well.
Conquest Lemonraid, owned by Gary Barber, boasts a record of two wins and two seconds from five starts and is the likely post-time favourite in the $100,000 1 1/8-mile turf test for sophomores. The talented bay is a nose and a neck away from having four wins after losing on debut by the narrowest of margins, while last time out he rallied from seventh to complete the exacta behind Yorkton when travelling a mile on the turf in the Charlie Barley.
"He ran a great race last time out in the Charlie Barley. I don’t think the distance will be an issue. It should be within his ability. He’s by Lemon Drop Kid," said Kathryn Sullivan, Toronto-based assistant for Casse.
The game horse is a barn favourite.
"He’s a great little horse. He’s a really hard trying horse and he’s one of my favourites," said Sullivan. "He missed some time last year but he’s a real gutsy little horse and he’s waiting on a big win."
The Casse barn will also send out King and His Court who finished seventh last time out in The Queen’s Plate. A four-time winner from 14 starts, including wins in the Coronation Futurity, Display and Wando Stakes, King and His court will be looking for his first turf win in his third attempt on the green.
Regular rider Gary Boulanger retains the mount on King and His Court as the Court Vision colt takes a breather from the Canadian Triple Crown trail.
"We worked him on the turf the other day and Gary was very happy with him," said Sullivan of the five furlong breeze in 1:00.60. "We never really had the Prince of Wales in mind for him."
Final Copy, Watch Me Strut and Night Watchman complete a compact Toronto Cup field.
Mo Big Cat is one of two Uncle Mo fillies to represent Casse in the $125,000 Shady Well Stakes, a 5 1/2-furlong Tapeta sprint for Ontario-bred juvenile fillies. The dark bay, out of the multiple stakes winning dam Sweet Kitten, arrives at Sunday’s test from a rallying 2 1/4-length score in a six furlong maiden allowance spring on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
That victory was redemption for a failed effort as the favourite on June 10 when sprinting 4 1/2-furlongs on the main track.
"She’s been training very well over the Tapeta and turf to Tapeta isn’t as big a jump as going turf to dirt," said Sullivan. "She made her first start on the Tapeta and she had a tough trip that day. Certainly, I don’t think we want to peg her as just a turf horse."
Eurico Rosa da Silva takes over for the stakes debut with regular pilot Patrick Husbands landing on the other Casse filly, Moka Latte who was an impressive hand-ride winner on debut in a five furlong maiden allowance sprint.
"She was pretty impressive in her first start and we were really happy with her leading into that race and expected her to run well. She’s been on our radar for a while as one to watch," said Sullivan.
The impressive bay, a Conrad Farms homebred, is out of State Cup and a half-sister to the 17.1 hands tall State of Honor who will compete in Tuesday’s Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie.
"She’s not that big right now, but she’s very well put together. She’s fairly solid for a two-year-old filly, but she doesn’t look like she’s going to be that tall," said Sullivan.
If she is able to stretch out as successfully as her big brother, she will certainly be a factor in next year’s Triple Tiara series.
"The Oaks is always in the back of your mind when you have a nice Ontario-bred two-year-old filly, that’s always a goal," agreed Sullivan.
State of Honor, runner-up in a pair of graded dirt races earlier this campaign in Florida, will look to rebound from his eighth-place run in The Queen’s Plate.
"Everything is going very well. He’s been over on the training track most mornings and we’re pretty confident this should be a good race for him. The distance and surface are good for him," said Sullivan.
The Toronto Cup is slated as Race 3 while the Shady Well will go as Race 8 on Sunday’s 10-race card. First post time is 1PM. Fans can watch and wager on all the action via HPIbet.com.
FIELD FOR THE TORONTO CUP
POST / HORSE / JOCKEY / TRAINER
1 / Final Copy / Rafael Hernandez / Roger Attfield
2 / Watch Me Strut / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Catherine Day Phillips
3 / Conquest Lemonraid / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse
4 / King and His Court / Gary Boulanger / Mark Casse
5 / Night Watchman / Luis Contreras / Barb Minshall
FIELD FOR THE SHADY WELL
POST / HORSE / JOCKEY / TRAINER
1 / Mo Big Cat / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Mark Casse
2 / Jamaica Me Home / Devon Johnson / Gordon Colbourne
3 / Mega Monster / Luis Contreras / Mike DePaulo
4 / Glamanation / David Moran / Mike Doyle
5 / Miss Danielle / Jesse Campbell / Ricky Griffith
6 / Moka Latte / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse