Veteran Trainer Setting Up 50-Horse Division for Spring, Summer Meets
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Mark Casse’s growing presence within the Thoroughbred racing world will expand to South Florida this spring and summer, when his stable will campaign a 50-horse division at Gulfstream Park.
While Casse has had a strong presence during the Championship Meet, his decision to set up a large division during the spring and summer meetings for the first time is further evidence of the growing success of Gulfstream’s year-round racing program.
“I’ve been a Florida boy my whole life, but I only raced at Gulfstream during the winter. With the program now that Gulfstream’s been able to do, I tip my hat to Frank Stronach, the Florida Breeders and everybody,” Casse said. “To me, it’s beginning to make a lot more sense to race there year-round.”
Casse is a nine-time Sovereign Award-winner in Canada, where he has been honored as outstanding trainer for five consecutive years. He enjoyed a career year in 2015, when his stable earned $13.6 million and won 159 races, including Breeders’ Cup victories by Tepin (Mile) and Catch a Glimpse (Juvenile Fillies Turf).
“I’m always trying to take advantage of opportunities, and I think the opportunity is there. It’s great for us. Our main deal is in Ocala – that’s where we get all our horses ready,” said the 55-year-old conditioner, who operates a farm in Ocala. “It’s a lot easier to get them ready and ship them down to South Florida. We’re excited about it.”
Casse, who finished fifth in both races won and purse earnings in the trainer standings during the past Championship Meet, recently took over the training of Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm’s powerful contingent of Florida-bred racehorses, including Kentucky Derby candidate Fellowship.
“The happenings of the last few days are going to make us a much bigger factor in South Florida. We’re excited to have them. I think it will be a good relationship for both of us. We have similar ideas the way we do things,” said Casse, who will seek his 10th straight training title at the current Woodbine meet. “It’s getting to be that the Florida-bred is becoming more valuable again. For the first time in 30 years, I’m actually looking and trying to buy Florida-breds to compete there.”
The day-to-day training of Casse’s Gulfstream division will be handled by assistant Jamie Begg.
“Jamie has been with me for a few years. He was with our Keeneland division,” Casse said. “His father (Jeffrey Begg) is the chief steward of the Jockey Club of Canada and is actually a part owner of Catch a Glimpse. I’ve been friends with the family for years. Jamie has been a horseman his entire life.”
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