March 10, 2022 – Hall of Fame conditioner Mark Casse sends out Kentucky-bred sophomore Mrs. Barbara in the Grade 3 $200,000 Florida Oaks, Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
A daughter of Bodemeister, out of Destroy (who was owned by the Jim Dandy Stable of Mel Lawson), Mrs. Barbara brings a record of 2-1-1 from six starts into the 1 1/16-mile turf tilt for three-year-old fillies, slated for race 9 on the 12-race card.
“She’s doing well, very well,” said Casse, of the Jim Dandy Stable-bred miss, owned by Spruce Stable. “It looks like there could be some rain this weekend, so hopefully, the turf isn’t too soft. Soft turf is not what you’re looking for coming off a little bit of a layoff. But she’s training exceptionally well.”
Mrs. Barbara debuted last June at Churchill Downs, finishing fifth in the 5 ½-furlong turf event.
She was runner-up in her second career start, in July at Woodbine, before a third-place effort in the Catch a Glimpse Stakes on the turf at the Toronto oval. She then stretched out to a mile and finished fourth in the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes on September 19.
Casse then entered the dark bay in a maiden special weight race, which resulted in a 1 ¾-length victory on the main track at Woodbine on November 7.
One race later, Mrs. Barbara stepped into the stakes ranks again, where she rallied stoutly to win the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 main track Mazarine by a half-length on November 28.
“I usually rate the horses as we are going along, an A, B, C, or D,” offered Casse. “I would say early on, she was a B-plus. I took her to Kentucky, which is always extremely tough, and thought she would run well, so that kind of tells you that I liked her. I guess we knew we had a nice horse when she got up to Woodbine. Her effort in the Mazarine was great. We were expecting her to run well.”
The Oaks will be the first start of Mrs. Barbara’s three-year-old campaign.
Casse likes what he’s seeing ahead of Saturday’s engagement, which drew nine hopefuls.
“She seems to have really matured over the winter. I think she’ll run well. She’s the only horse I have for Jim [Woodbine Entertainment CEO, Lawson] and this mare she’s out of meant so much to his mother and father, and their family. I feel a little added pressure with this one, simply because of the history that goes along with the mare.”
After the Oaks, Mrs. Barbara’s next opportunity for victory could come at this year’s Sovereign Awards ceremonies on April 14, two days ahead of opening day for Woodbine’s 2022 Thoroughbred season, a 133-day meet which concludes on December 11.
She’s up against Diabolic and Moira in the Champion Two-Year-Old Female category. Should she win, Mrs. Barbara would join her dam Destroy (2010 Broodmare of the Year) and Destroy’s dam, Eternal Search, (a multiple award winner), as Sovereign champions.
Casse, who won a leading 110 races at Woodbine in 2021, could notch his 15th Sovereign as Canada’s top trainer. He joins finalists Kevin Attard and Josie Carroll, both of whom enjoyed outstanding campaigns once again.
“I thought this was probably one of our best years ever at Woodbine,” said the dual Hall of Fame conditioner, who recently went over the $200 million mark in lifetime purse earnings. “I think the numbers would say that. When you look at all of the finalists we have in the different categories for the Sovereign Awards, that makes us very happy. We did not participate in the Queen’s Plate, which is always disappointing. It’s something we strive to do every year. That was a little disappointing, but I would definitely put 2021 as one of our best years ever at Woodbine.”
FIELD FOR THE FLORIDA OAKS
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Mrs. Barbara – Rafael Hernandez – Mark Casse
2 – Roughly a Diamond – Antonio Gallardo – Michelle Nihei
3 – Dolce Zel – Irad Ortiz Jr. – Chad Brown
4 – Princess Ellis – Jesus Castanon – Alnaz Ali
5 – Sweet Dutchess – Fernando De La Cruz – Kathleen O’Connell
6 – Spicer – Jose Ortiz – Chad Brown
7 – Alittleloveandluck – Paco Lopez – Michael Dini
8 – On Alert – Javier Castellano – Shug McGaughey
9 – Ambitieuse – Manuel Franco – Graham Motion