06/17/2011 11:34AM

Woodbine: Casse plans to go three-deep in Queen's Plate


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Mark Casse has had a total of seven starters in five runnings of the Queen’s Plate, with his best finish a fourth-place finish with Tasty Temptation in 2009.

Next Sunday, Casse plans to take a triple-barreled shot at the $1 million Queen’s Plate with Strike Oil, Hippolytus, and Enduring Star all being pointed for the 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

“It’s all systems go, at this point in time,” said Casse, after watching his Queen’s Plate candidates work on the main track here at Woodbine on Friday morning.

Strike Oil, under Luis Contreras, and Hippolytus, ridden by Wendell Bharath and experimenting with blinkers, breezed in company and were clocked in 1:01.60.

Bharath also was aboard Enduring Star, who was clocked in 1:00.80 while working with 4-year-old stablemate So Elite, who was clocked in 1:01.20.

Exercise rider Jason Hoyte rode So Elite, who is being pointed for the Grade 3, $200,000 Dominion Day at 1 1/4 miles here July 1.

Casse caught Enduring Star going his last quarter in 23.80 seconds and galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.40.

“It went perfectly,” said Casse. “They all did just what I asked them to do.”

Strike Oil, Hippolytus, and Enduring Star all are heading into the Queen’s Plate as nonwinners of two.

“They all want to come from out of it,” said Casse, who said he believes none of the three will have trouble getting the Queen’s Plate distance.

The most accomplished of the trio to date is Strike Oil, owned by John Oxley, who won the $252,400 Coronation Futurity over 1 1/8 miles here last fall and most recently was third, beaten 5 3/4 lengths, in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial with Contreras in the irons.

“You just never know what you’re going to get with him,” said Casse. “Sometimes he shows he’s a nice horse, and the next time he gets beat 30 lengths.

“I think he’s a horse where you need to time his ride just right. He probably has about a quarter-mile run. I think, and Luis would agree, that he pulled the trigger a little too early last time.”

With Contreras headed elsewhere in the Queen’s Plate, Casse has recruited Willie Martinez as Strike Oil’s partner.

“Willie’s won some races for me before, and he seems to get along with a horse like him,” said Casse. “He’s a very strong rider.”

Hippolytus ended 3 1/4 lengths behind Strike Oil as the fourth-place finisher in the Plate Trial after winning a first-level allowance race at 1 1/16 miles in his seasonal bow here May 8.

“He ran a big race first time out, and he had the right to kind of bounce,” said Casse. “He’s a big, good-moving horse.

“You don’t really want to put blinkers on, when you’re stretching out, but he gets kind of intimidated.”

Enduring Star, third in the Coronation Futurity, finished a closing third over 1 1/8 miles of turf in his seasonal bow at Gulfstream and then won a maiden race here at 1 1/16 miles on April 23.

“Right after that, he got sick,” said Casse. “We never really knew what his problem was.

“He’s kind of the big question mark.”

Blinkers on make big difference for Silver Rock

Casse also sent out Silver Rock, a candidate for Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 King Edward at one mile on the turf course, to breeze five furlongs in 1:00.20 on the main track with Hoyte in the irons.

Bred in Kentucky by his owner, Eugene Melnyk, Silver Rock is 4-year-old gelding who won his maiden when racing with blinkers for the first time at Gulfstream and brings a three-race win streak into the King Edward.

Silver Rock’s latest success came in a difficult second-level allowance race over one mile of turf at Churchill Downs.

“He’s done really well since we put the blinkers on him,” said Casse. “His last race at Churchill Downs was awesome.

“Now, Silver Rock thinks he can beat anybody. I don’t know if he can, but he thinks it. “

Shaun Bridgmohan, who has piloted Silver Rock to his last two victories, has the call for the King Edward.

Hailstone, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old colt who finished second in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup over seven furlongs of turf here May 29, also is scheduled to represent the Casse stable in the King Edward.

“He might want a little more than a mile,” said Casse. “He’s really well bred, and I think if things go correctly he’ll be a tip-top runner.”

Hollinger, Societys Chairman work in company

Hollinger, under jockey Tyler Pizarro, and Societys Chairman, with exercise rider Suzanne Lorimer, breezed together on the training track turf course in preparation for the King Edward and were timed in 57.40.

Pizarro retains the mount on Hollinger and Society’s Chairman is to be ridden by Garret Gomez, who plans to be here for the weekend and has the call on Curgone for trainer Greg De Gannes in the Queen’s Plate.

Gomez has several other calls for De Gannes, including Runfor Ro in next Saturday’s $150,000 My Dear and Silverleo in next Saturday’s $100,000 Charlie Barley.

The My Dear is a five-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies and the Charlie Barley a one-mile turf overnight stakes for 3-year-olds .

Special award to longtime racing club president

The Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, will hold its 49th annual awards day here Sunday and Sam Lima, longtime president of the TTRC, will be presented with the group’s special award of merit.

Lima, 82, has served as president of the club in 1970 and 1971 and from 1982 to the present.

He also has owned horses since 1963 and has played a key role an almost uninterrupted role as an executive with the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association since first being elected in 1972.

Sunday’s awards will recognize Woodbine’s outstanding performers of 2010. Other honorees will be Raging Star, recipient of the club’s signature claimer of the year award; jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva, apprentice jockey Omar Moreno; trainer Mark Casse; and owner Sam-Son Farm..

Raging Star, selected by a panel of TTRC members, won 4 of 12 starts and added 3 seconds last year while earning $86,298 for his owner and trainer Nick Nosowenko.

The jockey and trainer awards are based on money won and the owner award on races won.

Presentations will be made after the first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth races in the winner’s circle.