Younger Casse Preparing To Start His Own ‘Legacy’

When the Breeders’ Cup comes to Churchill Downs next year, Norman Casse hopes he’s trying to beat his dad instead of helping Mark Casse add to the three championship races the sprawling stable has captured the past two years.

Norman — the Louisville native and Bellarmine graduate who encouraged his father to add a major Kentucky division to his expansive operations in Florida and Canada — plans to go out on his own next spring while remaining on a circuit that involves being in Kentucky for long stretches in the spring and fall, Saratoga for two months in the summer, then south Florida for the winter.

“That would be fun,” the elder Casse said of squaring off against his son in a big race. “But I think the closer we get to it, the more emotional I’ll get.”

“I’m real excited,” Norman said. “I think we have the potential to win two or three more Breeders’ Cup races together. I’ve helped Dad kind of create his legacy. Now I want to start my own. I’m sure we’re going to run against each other, and let the best man win, so to speak.”

First there’s the business at hand at Del Mar of trying to add to Catch A Glimpse’s Juvenile Fillies Turf and Tepin’s Mile on turf that got Casse off the Breeders’ Cup schneid in 2015, with Classic Empire following up last year with victory in the Juvenile. Casse’s seven-horse Breeders’ Cup contingent is headlined by World Approval in Saturday’s $2 million Mile and Heavenly Love in Saturday’s $2 million Juvenile Fillies, the 9-2 second choices in their respective races.

World Approval, stabled much of the year at Churchill Downs, captured last year’s 1 3/8-mile United Nations (G1) but the 5-year-old gelding has been more consistent this year, his four victories in five starts including the Woodbine Mile (G1) and Saratoga’s Fourstardave (G1) in his past two starts to emerge as America’s best turf miler. The tepid favorite in the Breeders’ Cup is British-based Ribchester.

“I know a lot’s been said about the one horse from Europe,” Mark Casse said. “But this is going to be a new ordeal for him. This is a much tighter-turn track. They just don’t have the familiarity with that. And speed here is a little different than speed in Europe.

“I hadn’t seen World Approval for a while, because I’d been in my travels. I can’t believe how much bigger and stronger he’s gotten as he’s gotten older, and I think that might be the key to some of his success. Before he used to be leaner and longer, where he looked like more of a Kenyan runner, a mile and a half runner. But now he’s gotten a little more Ben Johnson in him and looks more like a mile.”

And perhaps there might be another component. Mark Casse said that World Approval and the recently retired Classic Empire didn’t cotton to each other.

“I think he’s happy to see Classic Empire go,” he said with a laugh. “They didn’t get along very well. When we were at Pimlico last year, World Approval was going around the shedrow. And Classic Empire never gets upset with anybody but he came and busted through his (stall) webbing to attack him. They didn’t like each other, so that might have something to do with it, too.”

With Louisville’s Julien Leparoux riding, Heavenly Love took Keeneland‘s Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades by 5 3/4 lengths over Juvenile Fillies entrant Princess Warrior. The favorite in her Breeders’ Cup race is California’s Moonshine Memories, whose 3-for-3 mark includes sweeping the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante and Santa Anita’s Grade 1 Chandelier.

“The Alcibiades was awesome,” said Mark Casse, who made Louisville his base in the mid-1980s before going to Canada. “It looked like she was only in second or third gear. Hopefully when Julien pushes the gas pedal there will be another.”

The Casse also have Woodbine’s Grade 3 Mazarine winner Wonder Gadot and Gio Game, a nine-length Keeneland maiden winner, in the Juvenile Fillies.

Flameaway will make his long-await turf debut in Friday’s $1 million Juvenile Turf after winning Keeneland’s Bourbon (G3) by a nose in a race taken off the turf. The Casse-trained Awesome Slew earned a shot at Friday’s $1 million Dirt Mile by taking Churchill Downs’ Ack Ack (G3), with Keeneland’s Shakertown (G2) winner Holding Gold seeking an upset in Saturday’s $1 million Turf Sprint.

Mark Casse’s first Breeders’ Cup starter was in 1994 with End Sweep, who finished 11th in the Sprint. It was seven years before he had another starter. Up until 2015, Casse’s best finish was a pair of seconds before Catch a Glimpse prevailed as the trainer’s 24th Breeders’ Cup starter.

“When that happens, you get more relaxed, you get more comfortable, you believe in yourself, in the program,” his son said. “And the horses seem to follow suit.”

Being the top assistant at a top stable is regarded as one of the best positions in racing: You make more than the vast majority of trainers and don’t have to worry about payroll, worker’s comp or developing a network of owners.

“It’s a big, big leap of faith,” said Norman, who waited until after two-time champion Tepin retired before getting serious about his own stable. “I truthfully believe I’m leaving the best job in horseracing. I get to work for my dad, who let’s us state our opinion to him and he doesn’t take it personally. I get paid well. I don’t have to worry about bills. I don’t have to manage the business; I manage the horses.

“But it’s not what I want. I want to be a trainer on my own. I want to make it on my own, make a name for myself. I know it’s going to be difficult. But it just has to be done…. I feel I’ve learned everything in this capacity that I can learn. So now, for professional and personal growth, I need to leave.”

The post Younger Casse Preparing To Start His Own ‘Legacy’ appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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