06/06/2008 12:00AM

Casse has five against Passion


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Last year, trainer Mark Casse sent out Silky Smooth and Quiet Action to run 1-2 in the Alywow Stakes.

On Sunday, Casse has no fewer than five 3-year-old fillies in the Alywow, an overnight stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs on turf that attracted a full field of 12 plus two also-eligibles.

Despite his numerical edge, Casse figures to have a difficult time knocking off Passion, who invades from Belmont for trainer Todd Pletcher and will have Javier Castellano in the irons.

Passion is coming off a third-place finish in Keeneland's Beaumont, an about-seven-furlong race in which Grade 1 winners Ariege and Golden Doc A ran one-two.

And the move to turf certainly will present no problem, as Passion was 2 for 2 over 6 1/2 furlongs on grass at Santa Anita this winter, including a score in the Grade 3 La Habra.

Verdana Bold, winner of the six-furlong Star Shoot and the 1 1/16-mile Selene in two starts here for trainer Danny Vella, also is proven on turf, having won over 5 1/2 furlongs at Laurel in her debut last December.

Meanwhile, the most accomplished member of the Casse quintet is Officer Cherrie, a Kentucky-bred owned by Charles Laloggia.

Winner of the six-furlong Ontario Debutante and the Grade 3 Mazarine over 1 1/16 miles here last year, Officer Cherrie will be making her turf debut in the Alywow after finishing off the board in the Beaumont and the Selene in her two starts this year.

"I was really disappointed in her performance in the Selene," said Casse. "I really thought she was setting up nice for that race."

Officer Cherrie came back to breeze five furlongs in 1:00 under regular rider Patrick Husbands on the turf training course here last Sunday.

"Patrick was really pleased with her," said Casse. "He had his pick of all these fillies, and she's the one he wants to ride.'

Husbands also is named on Lickety Lemon, another Laloggia-owned Kentucky-bred, and Dawn Raid, an Ontario-bred owned by Woodford Racing.

Lickety Lemon has made all six of her starts on grass, winning her first two and placing in the Natalma here and in the Jessamine at Keeneland.

Her two starts this year also have come in stakes company south of the border, including an eighth-place finish in Keeneland's Grade 3 Appalachian, in which she was beaten just 4 3/4 lengths.

"She's run in some really tough races," said Casse. "But, 6 1/2 furlongs might be a little too short for her."

Casse's other Alywow entrants are Clear the Ice and Rose of Killarney, who both won their maidens here in turf sprints.