06/19/2011 12:13PM

Stephen Foster winner Pool Play may target more rich races on dirt

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
If he remains on dirt, the versatile Pool Play could race next in the Aug. 6 Whitney at Saratoga.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The day after winning Saturday’s Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap with 36-1 longshot Pool Play, trainer Mark Casse was awake but dreaming.

Dreaming of what the future might hold for Pool Play, and whether the Foster might prove a race that leads his horse to campaign that culminates with a return appearance at Churchill Downs in the Grade 1, $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5.

Last year, Blame won both races and became the North America’s champion older horse.

Casse knows Pool Play is a long way from starting in the Breeders’ Cup, let alone winning, but said he was encouraged Pool Play was able to win the 1 1/8-mile Foster in his first start on dirt. He felt the Foster distance might have been too short for his horse.

“A mile and a quarter is his game,” Casse said Sunday.

His next race has not been immediately determined. Given the versatility of 6-year-old Pool Play, who has run well on Polytrack, turf, and now, dirt – there are any number of options for him.

Should Pool Play stick to the dirt, a race such as the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 6 could be an option, Casse said. The horse will go to Saratoga after the Churchill Downs meet ends with a string of horses Casse will send there.

If he is to win a race such as the 1 1/8-mile Whitney or 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic, he will likely have to run faster than he did in winning the Foster. Racing over drying-out track but one rated fast, he covered 1 1/8 miles in a relatively slow time of 1:50.52, earning a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 100.

For Casse, a Kentucky-based trainer early in his career who topped the 1988 spring standings at Churchill Downs, winning the Foster proved gratifying beyond the purse and significance of the race.

“I’m been coming here since I was 12 to watch the Kentucky Derby; it’s always been a special place for me,” he said.

Virginia Derby next target for Banned

Besides Pool Play, the other respective graded stakes winners on Saturday’s card came out of their races in good condition, their connections said.

Jefferson Cup winner Banned has the $600,000, Grade 2 Virginia Derby at Colonial July 16 as his next-race goal, trainer Tom Proctor said.

East Coast races are likely in store for Bizzy Caroline and Scotus, respective winners of the Regret and Matt Winn for trainer Ken McPeek.

Bizzy Caroline will likely race next in the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes July 27 at Saratoga, McPeek said.

No specific race has been picked out for Scotus, though McPeek mentioned the Haskell and Travers as races being under consideration.

Bizzy Caroline earned the highest Beyer of the trio of the undercard graded stakes winners, receiving a preliminary figure of 92. Scotus ran a 90 in winning the Matt Winn and Banned an 86.

Apprentice Pedroza fractures leg

Apprentice Marcelino Pedroza, unseated at the start of Friday’s sixth race aboard Holy Shazaaam, fractured his right tibia in the spill and will miss about three weeks, agent Julio Espinoza said.

This is the second injury Pedroza has incurred this year. He also fractured his right knee in a January gate accident at Turfway Park, which kept him away from riding until late April.

Pedroza, 18, the meet’s leading apprentice, is expected to resume riding at Ellis Park this summer.