04/27/2012 1:42PM

Woodbine: Tiller tests Casa Loma on short rest


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Bob Tiller has gotten off to a fast start at the Woodbine meet. Heading into this week, he led the standings with six wins from 24 starters, good for a 25 percent win average.

Tiller will try to notch his first stakes at the meet on Sunday, when he saddles Casa Loma in the $150,000 Fury, a seven-furlong sprint for Ontario-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Casa Loma won two seven-furlong races at 2, including a first-level allowance. She completed her season with a fourth in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes and a distant fifth-place finish in the Ontario Lassie Stakes.

Casa Loma was no match for reigning champion 2-year-old filly Tu Endie Wei when she returned from the sidelines April 14 in the six-furlong Star Shoot Stakes, but she finished a clear second.

“I thought she ran tremendous,” Tiller said. “I knew she would. We put the blinkers back on her, and she just got outrun by a better horse.”

Tiller said running Casa Loma back in two weeks is not ideal, but he has no other viable options for her at this point.

“I wish I had an extra week or so, but she’s doing good, and this is where we have to run,” Tiller said. “Up to seven-eighths, I think she’s a better horse than she is going long.”

Tiller said hard work has been one of the keys to his hot start.

“You do the best you can,” Tiller explained. “We’ve worked hard with the horses, and they’ve responded. We haven’t had everything go right for us, but we can’t complain. We’re very happy if we win our share.”

Trainer Mark Casse entered Northern Passion and Dene Court, who could vie for favoritism.

Northern Passion’s big moment came when she took the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes over Dayatthespa and subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Stephanie’s Kitten on the grass here in September. She was also a charging second behind Tu Endie Wei in the Ontario Debutante Stakes.

This year, Northern Passion finished a close fourth in the Florida Oaks at Tampa, and was placed fifth most recently in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream.

“She clipped heels in that last race,” Casse recalled. “Not that she was going to win, but it definitely cost her. They took down the horse for bothering her. She’s come up and trained well on the Poly. I think she should come with her A game.”

Dene Court is unraced since finishing a half-length back in second here in the July 17 Shady Well Stakes.

“Seven-eighths is a tough comeback distance, but we’re comfortable where she’s at,” said Casse. “I think she’s good enough to be competitive.”