09/14/2012 12:40PM

Woodbine: For Casse, two out of three not bad in Ontario Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Stealcase is coming off a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Mark Casse has entered Stealcase, Prospective, and Patrioticandproud in $150,000 Ontario Derby , the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds that will be run on Woodbine Mile Day for the first time.

Casse anticipates sending out just two horses for the Grade 3 Ontario Derby, however, and Stealcase and Prospective both are owned by John Oxley

“I don’t see Prospective and Stealcase running against each other,” said Casse.

“I’m toying with the idea of taking Prospective to Oklahoma.”

Prospective would be seeking his fifth stakes victory of the season either here in the Ontario Derby or if he travels to Remington Park for the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds on Sept. 30.

Stealcase is coming off a seventh-place finish, beaten 6 3/4 lengths, in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Travers at 1 1/4 miles and would be making his first start at Woodbine but his second on a synthetic surface.

In his Polytrack debut, over 1 1/8 miles at Turfway Park this March, Stealcase closed to finish fifth in the field of 12 for the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes, 8 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

“He got off to a really bad start that day,” said Casse. “When I brought him up here, Patrick breezed him and said he loved [the surface].”

Patrick Husbands has been named on both Stealcase and Prospective.

Patrioticandproud, second to Prospective here in the 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park Stakes on June 10, came back five weeks later to win the 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup on the turf course and now returns from a two-month layoff.

“We gave him a little bit of a break,” said Casse. “This may be kind of a tough spot to bring him back in, but we’ll see.

Eurico Rosa da Silva, aboard for Patrioticandproud’s last two starts, retains the mount.

River Rush landed his first allowance condition when traveling 1 1/16 miles in his last start here July 29.

Trained by Reade Baker, River Rush had recorded his first lifetime win in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial but then failed to threaten as the tepid choice in the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate.

“We’ve been looking at this race all along,” said Baker, who trains the homebred River Rush for Stronach Stable. “He needs a fair track. If it plays like it did Plate day, he can’t win.”

Baker will give regular rider Jim McAleney a leg up on River Rush and is anticipating a good effort from the colt.

“I was just looking at him, and some of his baby fat has been replaced by muscle,” said Baker. “He’s more of an athlete now than he was in the spring.

Trainer Michael Maker has captured the last two running of the Ontario Derby, scoring with Stately Victory and Derby Kitten, and will be looking for the three-peat with Gung Ho.

John Velazquez has picked up the mount on Gung Ho, whose last outing was a distant seventh-place finish in the Mystic Lake Derby over one mile of turf at Canterbury Park on July 28.

Gung Ho’s last Polytrack performance yielded a third-place finish at 1 1/8 miles in the Grade 1 Blue Grass this spring.

Rounding out the field will be locally based Any Given Royal, Peyton, Ultimate Destiny, and Colleen’s Sailor.

Any Given Royal and Peyton finished 1-2 in the 1/16-mile prep for the Ontario Derby here Aug. 26 with the winner earning a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

Luis Contreras will ride Any Given Royal for trainer Brian Lynch.