04/19/2012 2:24PM

Woodbine: Casse pointing two for Fury


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Mark Casse plans to be back for this year’s running of the $150,000 Fury, with both Dene Court and Northern Passion on target for that April 29 race.

Dene Court, also owned by Melnyk, won over five furlongs at first asking here last June and then finished second to the invading Judy the Beauty in the Shady Well. Shortly afterwards, Dene Court was sent to trainer Todd Pletcher at Saratoga and has not started in the interim.

“She’s training really well,” said Casse, who welcomed Dene Court back into his barn in the Ocala area a couple of months ago.

Northern Passion, owned by John Oxley, will be returning to Polytrack after finishing a troubled sixth in Gulfstream’s March 4 Herecomesthebride over 1 1/8 miles of turf.

“She’s doing good,” said Casse. “I think she’ll like getting back to Poly, and that she’ll like the seven-eighths. I’m just trying to get her ready for the Oaks.”

The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8 mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, will be run here June 3.

Northern Passion started twice on the main track here in her first campaign, winning her 5 1/2- furlong debut and then finishing a closing second behind the talented Tu Endie Wei in the 6 1/2-furlong Ontario Debutante.

Dixie Strike, who like Northern Passion is owned by Oxley and is nominated to both the Woodbine Oaks and the June 24 Queen’s Plate, is slated to make her next appearance here in the May 13 Selene Stakes. The Selene, an open 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies, offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $250,000.

Dixie Strike, second in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth and winner of the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie in her last two appearances here last fall, picked up where she left off with a victory in the Florida Oaks over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Tampa Bay Downs. In two subsequent starts, Dixie Strike ran fourth in the Herecomesthebride and fifth in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland over 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack.

“She was down on the inside last time and was on her left lead the entire way down the backside,” said Casse. “She was in tight, and at the half-mile point she actually bounced off the rail. When she did that she backed out to last, but she actually picked it up and came running again. I think she’ll be just fine.”