10/23/2008 11:00PM

Casse plans California stable


ARCADIA, Calif. - Mark Casse, the leading trainer at the current Woodbine meet, will have a stable at Santa Anita this winter, he said Friday.

Casse said that approximately 15 to 20 horses will be sent to Santa Anita at the conclusion of the Woodbine meeting in early December.

"In the last few years, we've had more [Kentucky] Derby and Oaks-type horses," he said. "We've got better horses, turf horses and hopefully Derby prospects. To me, it looks like it's a place to come for those type of horses.

"We'll have some horses in New Orleans and we may switch back and forth a little bit."

Casse, 47, said that the move is being supported by clients such as Eugene Melnyk and Bill Farish. Casse is at Santa Anita this week, with starters in the Breeders' Cup - Sealy Hill in Friday's Filly and Mare Turf and Skipadate in Saturday's Juvenile Turf.

"This is the first time being out here in a long time," he said. "I'm impressed by the new track and everything."

Casse said his California team could include Skipdate, as well as Miner's Claim, who was second in the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park in March and sixth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in April. Casse said that Miner's Claim battled a serious illness following the Blue Grass Stakes, but is nearing a return to racing.

The California stable also could include the turf horses Royal Oath, winner of the King Edward at Woodbine in June, and Seaside Retreat, winner of the Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine on Aug. 4. The 2-year-old Stimulus Plan, who finished third in the Grey Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 5, may race at Santa Anita.

Casse said his familiarity with training on a Polytrack synthetic surface at Woodbine was part of the decision. Santa Anita has a Pro-Ride brand synthetic track.

"We pretty well know synthetic surfaces," he said. "I've run a lot of horses over synthetic surfaces. I've been training over it for 2 1/2 years. There is not one question in my mind that it's the best surface there is."

Hollywood Park barn fire causes minor damage

A fire in a barn on the backstretch at Hollywood Park early Thursday caused no damage to horses or people and minimal damage to the barn, according to a track official and an inspector with the Inglewood Fire Department.

The fire was contained to a hay storage area, according to Inglewood Fire Department inspector Darryl Jacobs.

"The cause of the fire is under investigation," Jacobs said. "There were no injuries to the public, animals, or individuals."

Jacobs said that two fire trucks responded to the call and spent three hours on the backstretch. He said the investigation is focusing on evidence at the scene.

"We were lucky that no one was hurt," Hollywood Park vice president and general manager Eual Wyatt Jr. said. He said the barn was not significantly damaged.

Hollywood Park's barns are made primarily of cinderblock, and the barn where the fire occurred endured "some scalding," Jacobs said. By comparison, Santa Anita's stables are mostly made of wood, with some made of cinderblock structures.

Dance in the Mood tops Hollywood opener

Hollywood Park opens its autumn meeting on Wednesday with the $65,000 Dance in the Mood Stakes for fillies and mares over six furlongs on turf.

The 15 nominees include two stakes winners from the Oak Tree meeting - Lightmyfirebaby, who won the California Cup Distaff on Oct. 5, and Queen Ofthe Catsle, winner of the Grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap on Oct. 4.

The richest race of opening week is the $100,000 Sharp Cat Stakes for 2-year-olds fillies over 1 1/16 miles. The race drew just seven nominees, led by Ten Churros, runner-up in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 5.

The meeting, which runs through Dec. 21, does not offer a graded stakes until the Grade 3, $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes over six furlongs on Nov. 22. Bob Black Jack, second in the Santa Anita Derby, is being considered for the Underwood, trainer Jim Kasparoff said earlier this month.

Of the first 11 stakes run between Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day, six are worth $65,000 and five are worth $100,000. The Grade 3 Prevue Stakes over seven furlongs on Nov. 23 is expected to feature Backbackbackgone, who won the Jack Goodman Stakes on Oct. 18.

There are six Grade 1 stakes during the meeting, three of which are part of the Autumn Turf Festival on Thanksgiving weekend - the $400,000 Citation Handicap on Nov. 28, the $500,000 Hollywood Derby, and $500,000 Matriarch Stakes on Nov. 30.

Zetcher moving horses to Baffert

Owner Arnold Zetcher is transferring approximately 15 horses from Ron McAnally to Bob Baffert on Monday, McAnally said Thursday.

Zetcher, who has spent actively at yearling sales and in the private market in recent years, informed McAnally of his decision last week, McAnally said.

"We had a heart-to-heart talk," McAnally said. "He asked what I felt and I said, 'I feel hurt.' "

McAnally said the group will include several 2-year-olds and that four Zetcher-owned horses will remain in his stable, but that "a few of them will be retired next year."

It was not immediately clear whether Tizzy's Tune, who finished fifth in Friday's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, would remain with McAnally or be part of the team that was transferred to Baffert.