08/04/2016 5:45PM

Holding Gold gives Casse a scare before winning Quick Call

Debbie Roma
Holding Gold, 7, wins the Quick Call Stakes at Saratoga on Thursday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Mark Casse spent Wednesday in Toronto, where he was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. But he wasted no time getting himself back to Saratoga in time for Thursday’s racing program.

“I told them I had to get back because I think we can win the stakes tomorrow,” Casse said.

And sure enough, he did, after his improving 3-year-old Holding Gold dug in gamely through the stretch to register a well-deserved head decision over hard-luck runner-up Commend in the $100,000 Quick Call Stakes.

Holding Gold shipped from Toronto to Saratoga less than two weeks earlier, after finishing second against older horses making his turf debut at Woodbine on June 25. Casse turned the son of Lonthro back to 5 1/2 furlongs for the Quick Call, a move that had him a bit concerned until jockey Julien Leparoux put Holding Gold in perfect striking position just off the early pace of Too Discreet.

Holding Gold joined for command from between horses nearing the eighth pole, then out-gamed Commend to the wire despite switching back abruptly to his left lead in late stretch. Too Discreet succumbed grudgingly along the hedge and finished third, another length behind Commend.

Holding Gold, a Live Oak Plantation homebred, completed 5 1/2 furlongs over the firm course in 1:01.84 and paid $4.80 as the favorite in a field of eight 3-year-old turf sprint specialists.

“I felt really good when he didn’t get too far out of it, but it scared me to death when he switched leads like that near the end,” Casse said. “They said they thought he might have seen something. I thought it got us beat. He really likes the synthetic, but there aren’t a lot of opportunities over that surface, which is why I ran him on the grass at Woodbine. I figured if he ran well, which he did, it would open up a lot of opportunities. And this was one of them.”

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