04/08/2015 12:25PM

Casse in line for big Sovereign Awards night

Barbara D. Livingston
Lexie Lou, trained by Mark Casse, is a likely finalist for Canada's Horse of the Year.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – If the votes fall the right way, trainer Mark Casse could be in for a big night at the 40th annual Sovereign Awards at Woodbine on Friday.

Casse is a finalist for his fourth straight and seventh career outstanding-trainer title and has horses nominated in nine of the 10 horse categories. Josie Carroll, Brian Lynch, and Greg Tracy are the other finalists for outstanding trainer.

The three finalists for Canadian Horse of the Year won’t be announced until the ceremony, but Queen’s Plate and Woodbine Oaks winner Lexie Lou likely will receive plenty of consideration.

Casse led all Woodbine trainers in wins, stakes wins, graded stakes wins, and earnings in 2014 and won his first Queen’s Plate with Lexie Lou, a finalist in the 3-year-old female and female turf horse divisions.

“We had a great year,” Casse said. “I was very pleased. For us to get our first Queen’s Plate win is something that I’ll always remember.”

In all, 10 of Casse’s horses are nominated for Sovereign Awards: Lexie Lou; Conquest Typhoon, and Conquest Tsunami in the 2-year-old male division; Conquest Harlanate and Mississippi Delta in the 2-year-old filly division; Hillaby and Spring in the Air in both the older female and female sprinter divisions; Florida Won in the 3-year-old male division; Sky Captain in the older male division; and Dynamic Sky in the male turf horse division.

Three Casse clients have been named finalists in the outstanding-owner category: John Oxley, Gary Barber, and Conquest Stables. Oxley could win his third straight outstanding-owner title Friday night.

“We’re represented in most of the categories, but the most important one is the owners,” Casse said. “It’s a tough business, and they do it for the love of the game, not for what they can make, so that’s important to us.”

Patrick Husbands, who frequently rides for Casse at Woodbine, is a finalist in the outstanding-jockey division, along with Luis Contreras, Eurico Da Silva, and Rico Walcott. Husbands, already a seven-time winner of the award, was last named outstanding jockey in 2009.

While there appear to be standout candidates in several categories, the 3-year-old male division figures to be one of the more interesting races of the night. Prince of Wales Stakes winner Coltimus Prime and Breeders’ Stakes winner Ami’s Holiday are likely to attract the majority of the votes, but Heart to Heart also could receive consideration after recording three straight stakes wins late in the season, two of which came in Grade 3 stakes on turf at Churchill Downs.

Along with Lexie Lou, Spring in the Air, and Hillaby, five other horses have been named finalists in multiple divisions. Executive Allure (3-year-old female, female turf horse, female sprinter) and Sharp Sensation (older male, male turf horse, male sprinter) have each been nominated in three categories, while Calgary Cat (older male, male sprinter), Excaper (male turf horse, male sprinter), and Heart to Heart (3-year-old male, male turf horse) earned nominations in two categories.

Sam-Son Farm can win its sixth Sovereign Award as outstanding breeder and is nominated in that category along with Adena Springs, William Sorokolit, and Paradox Farm Inc., the breeder of Lexie Lou. Sam-Son Farm is also nominated in the outstanding-owner category and is the owner and breeder of Deceptive Vision, a finalist in the female turf horse category.

Sovereign Award finalists

2-year-old filly: Brooklynsway, Conquest Harlanate, London Tower, Mississippi Delta

2-year-old male: Conquest Tsunami, Conquest Typhoon, Decision Day, Phil’s Cocktail

3-year-old female: Executive Allure, Lexie Lou, Paladin Bay, Sweater Weather

3-year-old male: Ami’s Holiday, Coltimus Prime, Florida Won, Heart to Heart

Older female: Hillaby, Silent Star, Spring in the Air, Strut the Course

Older male: Calgary Cat, Lukes Alley, Sharp Sensation, Sky Captain

Female turf horse: Deceptive Vision, Executive Allure, Lexie Lou, Royal Fury

Male turf horse: Dynamic Sky, Excaper, Heart to Heart, Sharp Sensation

Female sprinter: Cactus Kris, Executive Allure, Hillaby, Spring in the Air

Male sprinter: Calgary Cat, Excaper, Phil’s Dream, Sharp Sensation

Outstanding broodmare: Cruising Kris, Eye of the Sphynx, Star Guest, Uproar

Outstanding breeder: Adena Springs, Paradox Farm Inc., Sam-Son Farm, William Sorokolit

Outstanding owner: Gary Barber, Conquest Stables LLC, John Oxley, Sam-Son Farm

Outstanding trainer: Josie Carroll, Mark Casse, Brian Lynch, Greg Tracy

Outstanding apprentice jockey: Damario Bynoe, Sheena Ryan, Ericka Smilovsky, Nick Webb

Outstanding jockey: Luis Contreras, Eurico Da Silva, Patrick Husbands, Rico Walcott

Writing: Dave Briggs, Jay Hovdey, Kayla Urbasik

Digital audio/visual and broadcast: Horse Racing Alberta, Scott Jagow, Woodbine Entertainment Group Broadcast Department

Photograph: Michael Burns Jr., Santino Di Paola, Cindy Pierson Dulay