11/21/2007 12:00AM

Casse headed to New Orleans after meet

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Mark Casse is enjoying a career year, and will finish the Woodbine meeting as the leader in both races won and money won.

But Casse won't be resting on his laurels this winter as he will be running a 25-horse stable at Fair Grounds, where his son and assistant, Norman, already has set up shop with about a dozen runners.

A full-fledged winter campaign represents a departure for Casse, who in recent years has trained his stock in Florida while racing sparingly during the offseason.

"Now, with the numbers that we have and the quality of horses, you can't stop," said Casse. "We hopefully think we have horses who are possibilities for the Queen's Plate, the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky and Woodbine Oaks. Those type of horses can get a little break, but they still have to run in the wintertime.

"And we have so many young horses who are just now starting to run. It wouldn't make sense to stop on them now."

Jockey Patrick Husbands, who has formed a potent partnership with Casse, is expected to join the outfit in New Orleans after the Woodbine meeting winds up but may first take a couple of weeks off.

"Patrick's such a big part of our operation," said Casse. "It's not just Patrick in the afternoon, it's so much Patrick in the morning. I think one of the reasons why we're so successful, especially with our young horses, is that he takes a lot of time and works hard.

"We teach them a lot before they ever run."

Storm Royale, who is entered in a first-level allowance for fillies and mares at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf Friday, is slated to be Casse's first starter of the Fair Grounds meeting. Trained here this year by Danny Vella, Storm Royale is partly owned by Ed Seltzer, who also has been a Casse client.

Trainer has options for Display

Casse, the leading stakes-winning trainer at the meeting with 13, will be looking to add to that total here Saturday, with Briarwood Circle and Turf War both entered in the $125,000 Display, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds.

Husbands, who is named on both Briarwood Circle and Turf War, is the leading jockey in stakes won with 21.

"I don't think we'll run both," said Casse. "We probably won't decide until Saturday morning. I feel pretty confident that whoever we decide to run they'll be very competitive."

The $1 million Delta Jackpot, a 1 1/16-mile race at Delta Downs on Dec. 7, is an alternate option for both horses, who are owned by Woodford Racing.

Briarwood Circle is coming off an eighth-place finish under Husbands in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland on Oct. 6, but Casse believes the colt had a legitimate excuse.

"A horse broke down in front of him going down the backside, and Patrick had to check and veer out," said Casse. "He said he really had big contact with the horse outside him, and it just knocked the air right out of him."

Turf War, who recorded his second straight win when making his third start in the seven-furlong Swynford here Sept. 15, finished last of six as the odds-on favorite in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Grey on Oct. 8.

"The only thing I could say is I don't think the rail was necessarily the place to be that day, and he was pinned down on it the entire time," said Casse. "When he had won his previous races, he made a sweeping move.

"And, since then, I would say he's trained better than he did before any of his wins. I always looked at Turf War as being a nice horse, but he never trained like a good horse until recently."

Autobahn Girl in Fair Grounds stakes

Malcolm Pierce is slated to have his first starter of the Fair Grounds meeting on Saturday as Autobahn Girl has been entered in the $60,000 Pago Hop, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

Autobahn Girl, a Kentucky-bred owned by Live Oak Plantation, finished 10th off a four-month layoff in her first start for Pierce, the 6 1/2-furlong Ruling Angel here Oct. 24.

Baker barn invades East Coast

Reade Baker will be at Philadelphia Park on Saturday to saddle Notgivinmyloveaway for the $75,000 Pennsylvania Nursery, a seven-furlong stakes for Pennsylvania-bred 2-year-olds.

Notgivinmyloveaway won his debut at five furlongs and was placed second via a disqualification in his third and most recent appearance, in a seven-furlong first-level allowance here Nov. 8.

Owned by Jus Luk Stable, Notgivinmyloveaway will be ridden by Jorge Duarte.

The Baker barn also will be represented at Laurel on Saturday, with Wind in My Wings entered in the Selima and Bearactor in the Laurel Futurity.

Both the Selima, for 2-year-old fillies, and the Laurel Futurity, for 2-year-old colts and geldings, are 1 1/16-mile turf races worth $125,000.

Wind in My Wings is coming off a win in the $150,000 Jessamine, a 1 1/16-mile turf race at Keeneland on Oct. 11. An Ontario-bred owned by Craig Singer, Wind in My Wings will be seeking her third straight score. She won her maiden at Woodbine in her third outing, which came at one mile on turf.

Edgar Prado picks up the mount on Wind in My Wings.

Bearactor is a Kentucky-bred maiden who finished fifth in his second and most recent start, in the Grade 3 Summer at one mile on turf here Sept. 16. Owned by the Bear Stable of Danny Dion, Bearactor will be ridden by Edgar Prado.

* The Woodbine Entertainment Group will operate a Champions offtrack wagering outlet as part of the Grey Cup festival this week. The teletheatre will be located in the southwest area of the downtown Metro Toronto Convention Centre and is open through Sunday, Grey Cup Day.