Champion filly Lexie Lou returns Wednesday night

August 21, 2015

TORONTO, August 21 – Lexie Lou, named Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2014 thanks to victories in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, and the $1-million Queen’s Plate, returns from a lengthy layoff on Wednesday night, at Woodbine.
Off since a second-place effort in the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes held January 17 at Santa Anita, Lexie Lou will leave from Post 6 in Wednesday night’s opening race (6:45PM EST), a 1 1/16-mile turf event for older fillies and mares, as she works towards a potential start in the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes, a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In event, slated for Sunday, September 13.
“This is an important first step. She still has to run well and hopefully she can then go onto the Canadian,” said trainer Mark Casse.
To win her return engagement, Lexie Lou, set to be reunited with jockey Patrick Husbands, will have to topple the multiple graded stakes winner Overheard, a nose winner of last year’s Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes for trainer Malcolm Pierce.
Lexie Lou was nominated to a pair of races on the Canadian Millions Sales Stakes card slated for Wednesday, September 2nd, but the timing of this allowance tilt suits Casse.
“It’s not an easy race. Malcolm’s filly (Overheard) is a very good filly, isn’t she,” said Casse. “We were hoping this race would go. With a big effort she could make the Canadian. If the race didn’t go, we’d have run in the sales stakes and wouldn’t have any chance at running in the Canadian.”
The talented Sligo Bay filly, owned by Gary Barber, won four of her eight sophomore starts taking the Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate on the ‘Poly’, while also capturing the Wonder Where Stakes over Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
After a disappointing effort in the 2014 edition of the Grade 2 Canadian, Lexie Lou shipped to California to complete her campaign winning the Grade 3 Autumn Miss on the Santa Anita turf and finishing a game second to Kentucky Derby champ California Chrome in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby.
Lexie Lou was named champion three-year-old filly, grass mare and Horse of the Year on the back of her excellent 2014 season.
“She had a few little problems after the Canadian (10th, 2014) and then we went out to California and won impressively (G3 Autumn Miss),” said Casse. “After that, we ran into a little horse called California Chrome on the turf (in the G1 Hollywood Derby). And if you look at the horse that ran third that day, Talco, he just won the Shoemaker Mile and is a Grade One winner now.”
Last time out, in her four-year-old debut, Lexie Lou closed to be second in the Grade 2 La Canada, a 1 1/16-mile dirt stake at Santa Anita.
“She got sawed off at the start and it got her out of her rhythm. I’m not saying she should have won the race but it definitely cost her some,” said Casse.
Casse is still undecided on what the best surface might be for the champion filly.
“I’ve never found anything she didn’t like,” laughed Casse. “For me, I like running on turf. It’s a little more forgiving. If I could, I’d let every first time starter go on the grass. I think it’s a great place to come back off a long layoff.”
Ultimately, Casse is hoping to point Lexie Lou on a path that will take her to the Grade 1 $2-million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, a 1 3/16-miles turf event slated for Saturday, October 31 at Keeneland.
“You never know how they’ll come back off a long layoff. We have one of the best turf fillies in North America in Tepin and we’d love to have a second one,” said Casse. “She’s come back and trained really well. She looks great and if she can get back into her form that (Breeders’ Cup) is our goal.”
Lexie Lou has trained forwardly into her return with an extensive work tab including a recent five furlong breeze in 1:00.20, fastest of the day over the ‘Poly’, on August 13.
“We’ve given her some solid works. We haven’t been babying her. You’re never 100% off a layoff, but she should be good,” said Casse. “For us, ‘Lexie’ can’t come back with a ‘ho-hum’ performance. We want her to come back close to the top of her game.”
Regardless of the result on Wednesday night, Casse isn’t shy to admit the filly that provided him with his first Queen’s Plate win is near and dear to his heart.
“Of course, she’s special. She always will be,” said Casse.
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FIELD FOR LEXIE LOU’S RETURN (WED. AUG. 26, 6:45pm)
POST / HORSE / JOCKEY / TRAINER
1 / Winning Rhythm / Luis Contreras / Sid Attard
2 / Lynnessa / Gary Boulanger / Ron Sadler
3 / Overheard / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Malcolm Pierce
4 / Copper Kitten / Gerry Olguin / David Bell
5 / Save the Park / Jim McAleney / Reade Baker
6 / Lexie Lou / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse

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