07/02/2016 10:08PM

Pretty City Dancer completes stakes sweep for leading trainer Casse

Coady Photography
Prety City Dancer, with Julien Leparoux up, clinches the Churchill Downs training title for Mark Casse with her win in the Debutante.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trainer Mark Casse and his staff, led by his son and assistant Norman, know how to win races, whether in the United States, Canada, or even England, where their champion Tepin prevailed last month at Royal Ascot.

They also know how to win with drama, as they did Saturday on closing night of the spring meet at Churchill Downs – winning both the Bashford Manor with Classic Empire and the $100,000 Debutante with Pretty City Dancer - and in the process taking home leading training honors.

Unlike Classic Empire, who rallied to win in the closing strides, Pretty City Dancer was more authoritative in victory, swooping past the field with a rally that brought her from eighth to second on the turn. And from there she surged to the lead in early stretch and expanding her lead to 3 1/4 lengths at the finish.

Anna’s Bandit rallied to be second, followed by Country Candy in third. The favored China Grove was eighth.

The only thing Pretty City Dancer didn’t do was run as fast as Classic Empire, completing six furlongs in 1:11.01, well off Classic Empire’s 1:09.39 clocking for the same distance a race earlier. She paid $9.60.

“We had a pretty good trip, a little bit different than the colt,” said winning rider Julien Leparoux. “She’s a little bit more green. She still has a lot to learn. So I took her outside and made my run and she kept on going.”

A 2-year-old daughter of Tapit, Pretty City Dancer notched her first stakes victory in the Debutante for owner John Oxley.

Norman Casse, born and raised in Louisville, said to win the training title by sweeping the two juvenile stakes Saturday was sweet.

“Churchill Downs is my home,” he said. “So I’m very proud of what we did tonight.”

It was the second Churchill Downs training title for Mark Casse, who was leading trainer at Churchill previously in the spring of 1988.