Mark Casse, who sends out a quintet of Breeders’ Cup contenders this weekend including Spring Venture (Juvenile Fillies Turf), Spring in the Air (Juvenile Fillies), Dynamic Sky (Juvenile), Delegation (Dirt Mile) and Pool Play (Classic), is pleased with how his contingent is training – in particular $5-million Classic contender, Pool Play.
“He looks better than ever today,” said Casse. “He’s pretty simple. He’s not even going to train from the gate. The rest of them went to the gate, but he’s a pro. He’s been doing this for five years.”
Casse is also pleased with how his trio of two-year-olds are handling the deluge of media and new surroundings in their first trip to the west coast.
“Honestly, I couldn’t ask for things to go any better,” said Casse. “Knock on wood, hopefully it continues. Everyone has settled in nicely, everyone is happy and eating. We’re as ready as we can get, we just have to figure out if we’re good enough.”
While he’d like all five contenders to win this weekend, Casse does admit that Pool Play appears to be most ready to break out at the Breeders’ Cup.
“Pool Play is training so well,’ said Casse. “Dynamic Sky is doing well…the only horse there was a little concern with, because he was a little rambunctious, was Delegation. And, he’s settled down the past couple of days.”
Carolyn Costigan, conditioner of Juvenile Fillies Turf contender Nancy O, is orchestrating her final preparations for the Irish-bred daughter of Pivotal-Arravale.
“Today, she jogged two miles on the main track and then we brought her over to the starting gate and she walked straight in,” said Costigan. “She sat there in the gate for a couple minutes, as I anticipate she’ll be in a similar scenario tomorrow evening, and then she broke perfectly from the gate.”
Costigan expects that Nancy O, who has experienced some gate issues in her brief career, will benefit greatly from the schooling.
“It was just to let her know that you can break from the gate and bad things don’t always happen on the other side of the doors,” smiled Costigan. “So, she broke out and galloped away nicely. She did everything well today.”
Nancy O will break from post 9 in Friday’s Grade 1, $1-million, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
He answered the class test at Woodbine in the Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes, and on Saturday, Three Diamonds Farm gelding Next Question will take on the world in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Jordan Wycoff, racing manager for Three Diamonds Farm, is pleased that his Woodbine ‘Win & You’re In’ winner is not garnering as much attention as Woodbine Mile champion, Wise Dan.
“That would be nerve wracking,” laughed Wycoff. “There’s enough nervous energy just being out here.”
Wycoff will need Next Question to put in another fantastic performance in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint where he has drawn post five in a field of 14.
“There’s a lot of speed, we wanted to draw eight to ten ideally, but I think California Flag (Post 1) got the worst of it,” said Wycoff. “Great Mills drew outside of California Flag in the three-hole and that horse has nothing but speed.”
Despite the abundance of speed in the event, Wycoff figures Next Question can rate a bit.
“When I was up at Woodbine, I told Ramon, ‘You’re probably the fastest horse, but the big thing is just get him relaxed,'” recalled Wycoff. “When Ramon got back after winning the race, he said, ‘Jordan, I kept him relaxed but he wanted to go on.’ I think he’ll be able to rate a little easier off this speed.”
Friday’s Breeders’ Cup races will air in Canada on TSN2 from 4:00pm to 8:00pm, while Saturday’s races will also be on TSN2 (3:30pm to 9:00pm).