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Eight hopefuls, including Mark Casse trainees March to the Arch, and Olympic Runner, are set to contest the Grade 2 $175,000 King Edward Stakes, a one-mile event for three-year-olds and up on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack.
Casse, who was recently feted with others at the combined 2020 and 2021 U.S. Horse Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, has a pair of chances to notch his third King Edward crown, including with defending champ March to the Arch.
A lifetime winner of eight races from 27 starts, the six-year-old son of Arch, bred and owned by Live Oak Plantation, sports a record of 4-3-0 in seven Woodbine appearances.
Race 8 at Woodbine on Sunday, August 15 - Post 4:44 PM
|1||Town Cruise||10-1||Daisuke Fukumoto
|2||Olympic Runner||8-1||Rafael Hernandez
|3||March to the Arch||2-1||Patrick Husbands
|4||Avie's Flatter||6-1||Luis Contreras
|5||Gray's Fable||15-1||Gary Boulanger
|6||Alfons Walde (IRE)||20-1||David Moran
|7||Jolie Olimpica (BRZ)||5-2||Kazushi Kimura
|8||Valid Point||4-1||Emma-Jayne Wilson
After a second-place effort to 2020 Queen's Plate winner Mighty Heart in the main track Grade 3 Dominion Day on July 1 at the Toronto oval, March to the Arch, as the 6-5 choice, rallied over good going on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course to notch a sharp 4 ½-length triumph in the Niagara Stakes, set at a distance of `about' 1 1/8-miles.
Those first two starts of 2021 earned high praise from Casse.
"March to the Arch, what can I say? He's a tough, old boy who has come back this year as strong as ever. His last race [July 25], it was very impressive. He ran really well. He sat back - they set up a little pace for him - and he came running. He's cutting back for this race, but I don't think that should be a big issue."
Casse expects another strong performance this Sunday.
"He should run well this weekend. He's gotten better [over time]. Early on, he didn't show a whole lot. It took him a while, but when he did put it all together, he did it well. He really has become better with age."
March to the Arch launched his career with a fifth-place result at Gulfstream in February 2018, and earned his first win next time out, also at the Hallandale oval. The Florida-bred earned his first stakes victory that July, at Woodbine, in the Toronto Stakes.
The current plan is for the multiple graded stakes winner to contest one of the biggest races on the Woodbine stakes calendar.
"We're looking and hoping for another shot at the Woodbine Mile (September 18)," said Casse, who watched March to the Arch rally stoutly to finish second to Starship Jubilee in last year's running. "He's a real pro."
Casse will also send out by Olympic Runner, a five-year-old son of Gio Ponti, in the King Edward.
Bred in Kentucky by Eutrophia Farm Ltd., the Gary Barber-owned dark bay comes into the race off a silver medal performance in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup, missing top spot by a neck.
Olympic Runner, who brings a 4-7-2 mark from 22 career starts into Sunday's race, has a tendency to be his own worst enemy at times, noted Casse.
"He runs really well. He just doesn't get there quite as much as you would like to see. He kind of gets himself into trouble. I'm always making excuses for him, but I've come to the conclusion that he does it. He's coming into the race in good order. He's pretty consistent. He gets into trouble on tighter turns, so I think he enjoys the Woodbine turf course."
Fourth in last year's Ricoh Woodbine Mile, his lone stakes win came in the 2019 running of the King Corrie at Woodbine.
There's a possibility Olympic Runner could join March to the Arch in the Toronto oval's fall turf classic.
"We're hoping he's good enough for the Woodbine Mile," offered Casse.
Casse, who won his first King Edward in 2008 with Royal Oath, is hoping to see some fast early fractions in the King Edward.
"Both of them need some pace, so hopefully, that's what they can get on Sunday."
Hall of Fame conditioner Josie Carroll sends out a formidable duo of her own, multiple graded stakes winners Jolie Olimpica, a five-year-old daughter of Drosselmeyer, and Avie's Flatter, a five-year-old son of Flatter.
The King Edward is slated as Race 8 on Sunday's 10-race card.
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