03/20/2012 1:22PM

Turfway: Casse has Stealcase ready for synthetic start in Spiral

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Tom Keyser
Stealcase is one of as many as 12 3-year-olds expected for Saturday's Spiral at Turfway.

Mark Casse has become arguably the preeminent trainer at Woodbine in Canada, where the main racing surface has been Polytrack since August 2006. With more than 400 wins at Woodbine since 2007, Casse clearly knows how to prepare a horse to win over a synthetic track, and that’s just what he has been busy doing lately with a colt named Stealcase.

Stealcase is one of as many as 12 3-year-olds expected Saturday for a wide-open renewal of the $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky. The Grade 3 race goes at 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack, and although Stealcase has never raced over a synthetic track, he has trained over one, and Casse believes the colt could be a major threat Saturday.

[LIVE VIDEO: Watch Saturday's full Turfway card on DRF.com]

Stealcase, by Lawyer Ron, most recently ran sixth behind juvenile champion Hansen in the March 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. Before that, the colt won a two-turn maiden race over the Gulfstream Park dirt in the third race of his career.

From the start, the Gotham was an adventure for Stealcase, a late-striding chestnut. Leaving the gate, “he nearly fell down,” said Casse. “Aqueduct was really speed-biased that day, and our plan was to be very close to the lead, but after that break he lost all chance. I’m not saying I think he would have beaten Hansen that day, but I think we’d have given the second-place horse” – My Adonis – “a run for his money.

“So he had a serious excuse for that race, but he still has to step up. He still has to prove he can run with the big boys. He needs to be first or second in the Spiral. Then the next step would be the Blue Grass” on April 14 over the Polytrack at Keeneland.

Stealcase, with Rajiv Maragh riding for the first time, figures as one of the middling wagering choices in a field lacking a clear-cut favorite. Among the probable choices are the uncoupled Todd Pletcher duo of Heavy Breathing and Holiday Promise, and two California shippers, Handsome Mike and Russian Greek, the respective third- and fifth-place finishers in the El Camino Real Derby last month at Golden Gate Fields.

Doug O’Neill, who already has I’ll Have Another as a major candidate for the May 5 Kentucky Derby, is the trainer of Handsome Mike, while Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, a two-time Spiral winner, trains California Derby winner Russian Greek.

Other Spiral probables include Coach Royal, Ill Conceived, Mr. Prankster, Red Jack, Tizanexpense, and Went the Day Well.

The 41st Spiral is one of four stakes, all for 3-year-olds, to be run on the Saturday program. The others are the $100,000 Bourbonette, the $75,000 Rushaway, and the $50,000 Hansel. General admission is $10.

Turfway will not be hosting its annual draw luncheon Thursday but instead will have the draw in the racing office. The “Call to the Post” charity reception is scheduled for Thursday evening at the track.

The Spiral and Bourbonette will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) as the first of six major prep races on its “The Road to the Derby” series.

Last year, Animal Kingdom won the Spiral in his final prep before capturing the Kentucky Derby in his next start. He became the second horse to pull that double, following Lil E. Tee in 1992.

Douglas More than 1 year ago
I have been asked by many Derby Fans my opinion reguarding STEALCASE . I have said two weeks even before the GOTHAM STAKES that STEALCASE next two races for sure ought to be VINERY SPIRAL STAKES & BLUEGRASS STAKES . Those two tracks are Polytrack . One may ask , Why Polytrack since STEALCASE has never raced over the conditions . The Secret of the matter is this : at this time Late in the Game , its Best to go where the Top Contenders are not . I dont mean to sound like I have no faith . . . I am only saying which path is the best to travel in this stage of the game . There are only Two Preps left in the bag in order to gather up enough earnings for STEALCASE , and the VINERY SPIRAL STAKES is the perfect opertunity to Rebound - Regroup and move forward . STEALCASE will need to be ridden very smartly by jockey Rajiv Maragh . Get STEALCASE out to an early lead , rate very smoothly since going far - 1 1/8 . . . . looking at a time around the 1;49 . 4 - 1 . 50 . 1 . . . . If that could be the time basicly - STEALCASE ought to be able to take this STAKES race Wire to Wire and only have to run his own race by counting in tack the race . Not to panic , let the race unfold , and just get STEALCASE to relax EARLY ! IF THAT CAN BE DONE , THEN EVERYONE ELSE WILL BE RUNNING FOR SECOND PLACE . Front running Style , Just like Hansen , but not yet as powerful . There is my opinion to those that keep asking me and calling me . I would rather put my opinion out there in Black n White for all to see - instead of words getting mixed between now and then . I am not saying I am Correct - I am just saying ............................... Many will totally disagree with me : But That is nothing new . MY WISDOM PAYS MY OWN BILLS
don More than 1 year ago
I hope this horse ran last in this race...Patrick Husbands put this scum bag Mark Casse on the map.. He has won so many races for this guy, Helping him to be champion trainer at woodbine many times over including last season when he broke the trainers record and for him to turn around and dis Mr husbands like this is a damn shame..I guess there is no loyalty in this business.
Jesse Flinton More than 1 year ago
Really DON!!!! Calm down, I bet you lost money NOT betting Casse...... Oh and by the way trainers train horses and jockeys ride pretty basic it takes two Casse did as much for Husbands as hes done for Casse so once again CALM DOWN!!!! P.S Steelcase and went the day well cold exacta!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That was pretty good until the "MY WISDOM PAYS MY OWN BILLS" part.