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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Pool Play, Dynamic Sky, Three Others Work for Casse at CD


Trainer Mark Casse had planned to work toward Breeders' Cup with his two juvenile fillies on Friday and the boys on Saturday. With rain in the forecast at Churchill Downs, Casse sent all five of them out Friday.

Pool Play breezed five furlongs in 1:02.80 (25/61) in company with Stealcase, who is being pointed to the Grade III Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs a week from Friday. Stealcase worked in an identical time.

Pool Play, winner of the 2011 Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at odds of more than 36-1, had his 2011 campaign end early with a tendon injury. He returned to racing in July after more than a year-long layoff, and in his most recent start he won the Grade II Hawthorne Gold Cup (GII) to improve his record on dirt to two wins in two starts.

“I was just hoping to get him back,” Casse said. “We kind of had a plan and a strategy and it wasn’t necessarily to get him to the Classic, but to get him back on dirt. We did it just the way we wanted to, and once we felt like he was at his peak fitness level, we knew we were ready for the dirt.”

Jockey Miguel Mena was aboard for the work and will have the mount in the Classic.

Casse’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hopeful Dynamic Sky (ON) was guided in his work by exercise rider Jason Hoyte and breezed in 1:02.20 (15/61) in company. Dynamic Sky will enter the Juvenile off a runner-up effort to Joha in the Grade I Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity.

“He ran 72 feet farther than the winner,” Casse said. “I told Luis (Contreras) to make an earlier run, and he made a run in the middle of the turn. When he came out of the turn, he started laying in and it cost him his momentum. I think he was the best horse in the race. I don’t think there’s any question.”

Another Casse horse with an interesting workmate was Spring in the Air, who worked with Grade III Commonwealth Turf probable Lockout. Spring in the Air, who is being pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies off her win in the Grade I Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland, breezed five furlongs in 1:03.00 (31/61) under Hoyte.

“I thought she handled the dirt quite nicely,” Casse said. “She was our first one to work. They went away a little slow and she finished just in a gallop. She looked good.”

Spring in the Air will be ridden by Patrick Husbands in the Juvenile Fillies.

Casse’s other Breeders’ Cup filly, Spring Venture, was clocked in 1:01.20 (4/61) for her five-furlong drill under Hoyte while working in company. Spring Venture is undefeated in three starts and will enter the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf off wins in the Grade II Natalma and Grade III Mazarine.

“Spring Venture got away from the pole a little quick,” Casse said.  “She just wants to go. That will be Patrick's (Husbands’) biggest challenge: getting her to relax. She worked the fastest, but that’s just her. She doesn’t really know what slow is, but she looked great.”

Spring Venture is a $320,000 2-year-old in training purchase.

Barber also owns Delegation, who is being pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile off his win in the Grade III Durham Cup at Woodbine. With Hoyte in the irons, Delegation breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 (22/61) while working in company.

“Delegation worked really well,” Casse said. “He broke off, and there were two horses in front of him going a half mile, and he about ran over the top of them. He went around them and then came up on another horse and Jason had him out in the middle of the track. He went in 1:02 and change, but probably could have gone in :59.”

Casse, who is seeking his first Breeders’ Cup victory, said the horses will ship to California on Sunday.

--Edited Churchill Downs release with additional content by Dick Downey


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