12/19/2013 11:38AM

Meadowlands: Trainer Cassar feeling good about his four Saturday entrants


Trainer Darran Cassar is about to put the finishing touches on his most successful year as a conditioner. Cassar will be sending out four from his powerful stable on Saturday night’s Meadowlands program with good chances at success in each. While the Cassar stable this year has been dominated by successful imports, the trainer believes his best chance on Saturday will be in the form of a horse bred in Iowa.

“I think he’s my best chance of the four,” said Cassar in regard to K Lees Shakenbake, a sophomore that landed post five in race 12 of 13 on the Meadowlands program (first post 7:15).

“He raced well in his last start (second at Yonkers),” said Cassar, “It was an off track and I don’t think he knew what to do in the passing lane. I don’t think he saw a passing lane in Iowa.”

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The three-year-old has been racing competitively in conditioned races at Yonkers and Cassar believes he’s got a very big upside.

“I hope he continues to improve and then we’ll consider some of the late closers,” said Cassar.

“David Linker (part-owner) bought him with the idea of racing him during the year in Iowa and then bringing him east,” said Cassar. “You really don’t know what to expect when they come here but he’s got plenty of speed.”

Unlike K Lees Shakenbake, Dovuto Hanover arrived in the Cassar stable a short time ago after what can only be deemed a disappointing sophomore season.

“He was an expensive purchase last year,” said Cassar, “I got him about seven weeks ago. He’s got some minor problems but I think we can manage them.”

Dovuto Hanover jumps a few classes after capturing his first race for Cassar, a C-1 event on December 7.

“He won in spite of me,” Cassar said, “He was running in badly. We’ll have him a little different this week.”

Dovuto Hanover drew post five in the fifth race on the card, a $20,000 event slated as a B-1/A-2 handicap. Despite the big jump in class, Cassar believes that Dovuto Hanover has enough class to fit in.

With just one win this year in but six starts, Dovuto Hanover, a gelded son of Dragon Again, is a long way from recouping his purchase price, but Cassar hopes to give the horse a new beginning. “It’s not about his purchase price anymore. He’s got to make it as a racehorse,” Cassar said.

Fortunately he’s a racehorse with an enormous amount of talent. So much talent in fact that Cassar rated him right up there with stablemate Mr. Hasani as the two best horses in his diverse stable.

Another recent addition to the stable is Stolen Car. Owner Joseph Muscara has helped build the Cassar band with a string of down under purchases that have gone on to great success in North America. Stolen Car has raced just once since joining Cassar, that was a second-place finish at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

“He’s been cancelled out a couple of times at Harrah’s,” said Cassar. “Actually I think that was probably a good thing for him. It’s given me some time to train him. I’m not happy with the 10 hole.”

At the same time the trainer was quite content with the C-1 classification for Stolen Car, a winner this year in excess of $116,000 in the evening’s tenth race. The five-year-old by Mach Three has a record of 1:49 3/5 taken at Dover Downs this year.

Another five-year-old, import Erle Dale N, returns to the Meadowlands at the B-1 level carded as race nine.

“He’s a big horse; wears a 64-inch hobble. He’s definitely more comfortable on the big track,” said Cassar. Erle Dale N finished second on opening night of the Meadowlands season and returns at the same level with post three.

Erle Dale N has been on the board in 15 of his 25 starts this year and sports a 1:49 record taken at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

Cassar will also send out four at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night including the aforementioned Mr. Hasani.

“I still think he’s the best horse I have,” said Cassar. “He’s a funny horse, that :25 first quarter in the Presidential bruised his feelings. I’m going to give him some time off after Saturday.”

The Cassar stable has about 20 horses currently with two more pacers arriving from Down Under this week. “Mr. Muscara has bought some very nice horses,” Cassar said.