11/13/2012 12:48PM

Churchill Downs: Connelly’s filly looking like a beauty

Coady Photography
Sweet Cassiopeia has won 3 of her last 4 starts.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sweet Cassiopeia is a 4-year-old filly whose name comes from a queen in Greek mythology. According to Wikipedia, the queen “boasted about her unrivaled beauty,” and at some point in history, Cassiopeia became a famous constellation.

Bill Connelly, who trains the homebred filly for Dan Considine and Steve Snowden, is aware of how Sweet Cassiopeia got her name, and more importantly, that she has been backing up the bragging lately. Sweet Cassiopeia has emerged as the star of his 20-horse stable, a fast and versatile filly who has won 3 of her last 4 starts and stands to add to that streak Thursday as a major player in the feature race at Churchill Downs.

“She’s come around real well,” said Connelly, a 56-year-old northern Kentucky resident who has won more than 1,100 races in a training career that spans more than 30 years. “She’s only run one time on the turf, and did pretty well, so we’re looking to maybe expand our options with her in this next race.”

Sweet Cassiopeia, with Corey Lanerie to ride, will start from post 2 in the fifth of 10 Thursday races, a $58,000, third-level allowance scheduled for five furlongs on the turf. Nine fillies and mares are entered, although, with two of those designated as “main track only,” no more than seven will start if in fact the race remains on the grass.

Sweet Cassiopeia was produced by My Sweet Caroline, a mare Connelly trained for Considine and Snowden. The filly began her career in Canada with Barbara Minshall before being sent to Connelly this summer. Always a sprinter, she proceeded to win a dirt stakes on the West Virginia Derby undercard at Mountaineer Park and back-to-back allowances on the synthetic surfaces at Presque Isle Downs and Keeneland.

While still with Minshall, the filly was second last fall in a maiden turf race at Woodbine. “She’s shown us she can do a lot of things, so hopefully she’ll show up again in this grass race,” said Connelly. “I’ll take her down to Palm Beach Downs after this with a few others I’m shipping down to Florida this winter. I might give her a little break, but we intend on running her again next year.”

Probably the chief threats to Sweet Cassiopeia are Well Deserved (post 1, Shaun Bridgmohan), a stakes-seasoned 5-year-old trained by Steve Asmussen; Nisteltoe (post 4, Joshua Navarro), a Maryland shipper trying deeper waters after going 3 for 3 on the Laurel Park turf; and Kiss In the Forest (post 5, Brian Hernandez Jr.), a recent winner on the Keeneland turf and the lone 3-year-old in the lineup.

If by chance the race is switched to the main track, then Starlite Starbrite becomes a huge consideration as a “main track only” for Tom Amoss.

One other allowance (race 9) is on the Thursday card, and it’s also scheduled for turf, albeit at three turns, not one. It’s a $52,000, first-level race at 1 3/8 miles, with Lelaps and Grand Arch among the logical contenders in an oversubscribed field.

First post Thursday is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.