Updated on 03/12/2013 2:16PM

OBS Championship Stakes: Spring Venture edges Casse stablemate Spring in the Air


Spring Venture and Spring in the Air both had very useful efforts Monday when the Mark Casse stablemates finished one-two in the $100,000 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Championship for 3-year-old fillies in Ocala, Fla. Spring Venture finished three-quarters of a length ahead of her more heralded stablemate, finishing the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:44.80 over the SafeTrack synthetic surface.

Owned by Gary Barber and Stoneway Farm, Spring Venture held a tenuous lead under Jermaine Bridgmohan into the stretch and appeared to briefly yield to Spring in the Air near the eighth pole. But she battled back while racing nearest the rail to prevail, with Toasting finishing third, another four lengths back.

The Filly Championship was one of four races held on the annual “Day of Champions” at the spacious OBS facility. All races are restricted to OBS-sold 3-year-olds, and there is no parimutuel wagering. All are contested over SafeTrack.

Spring Venture and Spring in the Air, both sired by Spring at Last, are prospects to run back on the Polytrack surface at Keeneland in the Grade 1, $500,000 Ashland on April 6.

Spring Venture, bred in Kentucky by Stoneway, won her first three career starts, including two graded stakes at Woodbine, before faring poorly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Forward Gal in her two subsequent races.

Spring in the Air, owned by John C. Oxley, was making her first start since finishing fifth in the Nov. 3 BC Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita. In her prior start, the Ontario-bred filly won the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland.

Oxley said recently that a good race in the Ashland most likely would land Spring in the Air in the May 3 Kentucky Oaks.

The field for the Filly Championship was reduced to just five after three early scratches.

In the other OBS events:

* $100,000 OBS Championship, colt and gelding division: Michael With Us, with Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado aboard for trainer Steve DiMauro, nailed Brazilian Court on the wire to narrowly prevail at 1 1/16 miles in 1:45. Kenwood Racing LLC owns the winner, a Bluegrass Cat colt bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm. He was coming off a second-place finish in a maiden race at Tampa Bay Downs and was winning for the first time in five tries.

Brown Almighty, in from Oaklawn Park for trainer Tim Ice, faded to third after making a short-lived lead turning for home and was followed in fourth by Indiano Jones.

Jack Milton, trained by Todd Pletcher, was a notable early scratch, leaving a field of eight.

* $50,000 OBS Sprint, colt and gelding division: Conquestor, previously a maiden for Oxley and Casse, rallied from far back to overtake all six of his rivals and power to a three-length score under Gary Boulanger. The victory was the first in more than eight years for Boulanger, who only recently began riding again after suffering serious injuries in a 2005 riding accident.

Conquestor, by Broken Vow, finished six furlongs in 1:11 in his third career start. King Solomon ran second and Mind Spell was third.

Casse said a race at Keeneland is possibly next for Conquestor. The colt remains eligible for a first-level allowance.

* $50,000 OBS Sprint, filly division: Cor Cor, with Scott Spieth up, sped to an immediate clear lead before equaling the synthetic-track mark of 1:09.60 for six furlongs in winning by 4 3/4 lengths. Over the Counter was second and Leinan third in a field of eight.

Joan Scott, who trains Cor Cor for Steve Ballou and Harriet Waldron, said the Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes on April 14 at Keeneland is a “possible” next start for the daughter of Smoke Glacken. Cor Cor is now 4-for-5 lifetime with three ungraded stakes wins.

The Day of Champions exists largely as a financial incentive to breeders and buyers of horses sold at OBS. Owners maintain eligibility for their horses through futurity-style payments. OBS hosts year-round simulcasting on its property but is not permitted by Florida law to accept bets on its one day of live racing.

The OBS races are held to coincide with the 2-year-old OBS select sales scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.