08/11/2011 10:59AM

Woodbine: Paso Doble shows in Shepperton he's learning to relax


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Paso Doble proved again here Wednesday evening that it’s possible to teach an older horse new tricks as he closed from just off the pace for a going-away 1 1/2-length victory in the $125,000 Shepperton Stakes.

The 5-year-old gelding, owned by Centennial Farm (Niagara), had generally raced on or very close to the front end through his first three campaigns before Casse took over this season.

“Maybe he’s just got wiser as he’s gotten older,” said Casse, with tongue in cheek.

The fact of the matter is that Paso Doble has been encouraged to be less eager in the early going.

“We’ve been teaching him to relax,” Casse said. “It kind of worked against him in his first start this year, at five furlongs. They all took off and just kind of ran away from him.”

That race was the Debut, a restricted stakes here opening day, and Paso Doble has since won three of his five starts. The wins all came from a stalking position, including the restricted New Providence and the 6 1/2-furlong Shepperton.

His only off-the-board finishes came in the Grade 2 Highlander on turf and the Bold Venture, where he finished eighth of nine in open company in his outing prior to the Shepperton.

“He does struggle a bit when it’s hot,” said Casse, recalling that the Bold Venture was run on a very warm evening. “He has asthma.”

Casse now will aim Paso Doble for the $125,000 Overskate, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward here Sept. 28.

“Maybe I’ll try to find something for him in between,” said Casse.