08/05/2011 1:00PM

Woodbine: Casse goes with three in Breeders'


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Mark Casse sent out three horses for this year’s Queen’s Plate, with his best result being a second-place finish with Hippolytus.

Enduring Star, who finished 11th, and Strike Oil, 14th in the field of 17, currently are hors de combat.

Casse, however, still will field another trio for Sunday’s $500,000 Breeders’ as Hippolytus wll be joined by Control and Blackstone Bay in the 1 1/2-mile turf race that is the final leg of the triple crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Hippolytus still has to be considered the stable’s main spear-carrier off his huge effort at 61-1 here in the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate.

Three weeks later, trying dirt for the first time in Fort Erie’s 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales, Hippolytus pressed the early leader Oh Canada and made a mild bid into the stretch before weakening to finish fourth under his regular rider, Tyler Pizarro.

“Nobody wanted the lead down there,” said Casse, who trains Hippolytus for owners Harvey Swartz and Richard Lederman. “He dropped in, and got caught up behind a slow pace.”

Hippolytus has not breezed since the Prince of Wales, by design rather than circumstance.

“I thought about it, long and hard,” said Casse. “But, I didn’t see any real purpose in it. I want him to be as relaxed as he can be.”

Hippolytus also will be trying turf for the first time and has never worked on the medium.

“We’ve had a lot of success on the grass, and I don’t work horses on the grass that often,” said Casse, who had won with 17 of 66 starters from 94 turf races at the current meeting heading into Friday’s program.

“I like keeping them on the main track. If they can run on the grass they can run on it, and if they can’t they can’t.”

The other unknown facing Hippolytus, along with all of the others in the Breeders’ field, is the 1 1/2-mile distance.

“It shouldn’t be a problem, looking at his breeding, but I don’t really know,” said Casse. “It’s just an extremely difficult type of race.

“My instructions will be to get a forward position. Going a mile and a half, it’s hard to know where the speed will come from.”

Control, consistently contentious but winless in four starts this season, made his turf debut last time out in a restricted allowance at 1 1/4 miles and finished second, beaten a half-length by the older Cojac, under rider Patrick Husbands.

“I thought his last race was good,” said Casse, who trains the homebred Control for Will Farish Jr.

“We experimented with blinkers, but we’re going to take them off. Patrick thought he was a little unruly.”

Casse also is optimistic about Control’s chances of getting the Breeders’ distance.

“I don’t think there’ll be a problem with his getting the trip,” said Casse. “The question will be the competition.

“He’s not going to be far off the pace, either.”

Blackstone Bay, the final member of the Casse threesome, dropped to the $50,000 claiming level and was a 4 3/4-length winner over one mile on turf in his latest appearance.

“He’s an interesting horse,” said Casse, who trains Blackstone Bay for WinStar Farm.

“I think from a freshness standpoint, he’s in good order And, I think his last race was a powerful race.

“He won by almost five but he ran like a snake down the lane – he could have won by 10.’

Luis Contreras has been Blackstone Bay’s regular rider here but is sticking with Pender Harbour for the Breeders’.

Picking up the mount on Blackstone Bay will be Husbands, who was 39 for 126 riding for Casse heading into Friday’s program, by far the most successful of any tandem at the meeting.

“I think he could be the dark horse,” said Casse. “The distance is going to be the big question, and a lot of it is going to be Patrick’s ability to get him to relax early. If he can’t, then the horse has no chance.”

Plate also-rans recuperating

Enduring Star has run once since the Queen’s Plate, finishing 11th of 12 in a first-level allowance over 1 1/8 miles of turf here July 23.

“He ran really badly, and he came out with an inflamed leg,” said Casse. “He’s just started back in training.”

Strike Oil has yet to see action since the Queen’s Plate and, true to Casse’s postrace promise, will return as a gelding.

“He’s just taking it easy, recovering from that,” said Casse, who sent out Strike Oil to breeze four furlongs in 49.20 seconds here July 27.

The Score has it covered

The Breeders’ Stakes will be televised nationally by The Score, beginning at 4:30 p.m. in a one-hour special produced by the Woodbine television department.

Chad Rozema will host, Jim Bannon will be the analyst, and Sandy Hawley will be a roving reporter.

Features will include a look at the singular nature of Woodbine’s turf course and what the Breeders’ contestants will be facing at the 1 1/2-mile distance, plus jockey Luis Contreras and his bid to become the first jockey to win the Canadian Triple Crown with two different horses.

Contreras won the Queen’s Plate with Inglorious and the Prince of Wales with Pender Harbour

The Canadian Triple Crown was inaugurated in 1959.

Awards a possibility

Bannon has been nominated for a Gemini Award, which honor the best in Canadian television, in the “best sports analyst” category for his work on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s 2010 Queen’s Plate telecast.

Chris Elias also received a Gemini nomination as best director. and the Queen’s Plate telecast show itself is a nominee in the best live broadcast category.

The show already won the 2010 Sovereign Award in the best film/video/broadcast category.

The awards ceremony will be broadcast by the CBC on the evening of Sept. 7.