By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Leading trainer Mark Casse, who won the last two legs of the 2019 Triple Crown, is busy making plans for his pair of Classic winners War Of Will and Sir Winston – coronavirus permitting, that is.
Casse, best known in Britain for the exploits of Royal Ascot winner Tepin, has been breezing Preakness winner War Of Will on grass at Palm Meadows ready for his seasonal debut.
However, while he is keen to run in the Shoemaker Mile, scheduled for May 25 at Santa Anita, the recent shutdown at the west-coast venue leaves everything on hold.
“Our hope is to make him a dual Grade 1 winner, dirt and turf,” explained Casse, speaking to the New York Racing Association.
“He’s pretty well ready to run; we just need a place to run him. I was looking at the Shoemaker Mile, but we’ll have to see if Santa Anita reopens. Every day is something new, so we play it one day at a time.”
Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston has returned to the Casse barn in New York after a fruitless trip to Dubai as a leading member of the American party for the World Cup meeting at Meydan, where he was due to be ridden by Frankie Dettori. The race was abandoned only six days beforehand owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
The four-year-old, last seen in action winning a minor event at Aqueduct on January 31, cleared quarantine in Newark before being reunited over the weekend with assistant trainer Jamie Begg.
“He’s at Belmont with Jamie and was to gallop this morning,” said Casse. “He lost a few pounds on the trip even though he didn’t run. We’ll let him regroup and see when we start up running again.
“I think he can compete with the better older horses running a mile and an eighth or farther. For now, we’ll put a few pounds on him and keep him happy.”
Multiple G1 winner Got Stormy is likely to be set for a defence of her title in the Fourstardave at Saratoga in the summer, while Casse reckons the postponement of the Kentucky Derby until September 5 may benefit his prime Classic hope Enforceable.
“Physically, he still has to grow up a bit,” said Casse. “We’ve sent him to our training center in Ocala for a couple of weeks.”
Similar sentiments apply to stablemate Untitled, who was being aimed for a Derby prep in the now-postponed Wood Memorial, originally scheduled for Aqueduct this weekend.
“From a horse racing standpoint, if there’s any horse that will appreciate a little extra time it’s him,” added Casse. “He’s a big, leggy colt and when he fills out he’s going to be the man.”
“We were going to run him in the Wood,” he went on. “But now, I try to look for some of the positives in not running, and we have plenty of positives in that my family and the people that work for us are healthy.”
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