Ask any veteran of the Thoroughbred racing game and they will tell you it’s a an important ingredient to winning. And any person who has started multiple times in the Kentucky Derby knows you have to have it to win the Roses. That something is simply racing luck.
The modern day Kentucky Derby features large fields. When eighteen to twenty three year old Thoroughbreds line up all kinds of things can happen. The 146th running will be no different and Mark Casse is one of the trainers that is well aware of the need for a rabbit’s foot in the saddle cloth.
As one of the best conditioners in the game, Casse has been around the block a time or two and won many, many big races including the 2019 Preakness (War of Will) and Belmont Stakes (Sir Winston). A trip to the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle has eluded him to this point. Some of that may have been due to some bad racing luck.
In 2017 Casse brought the highly regarded Juvenile champion Classic Empire to Churchill Downs fresh off a big win in the Arkansas Derby. Coming out of the gate, his charge was bounced around and shuffled way back in the field. Running at the end, Classic Empire finished fourth, but his chances were severely compromised right out of the gate.
Last year, War of Will came into the Derby primed and ready for a big run. Right in the mix as the horses entered the far turn, Casse’s determined colt was in the middle of the Maximum Security drift out and had to alter his stride. Even though he finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby, War of Will came back two weeks later and proved he was ready to run with a powerful Preakness score.
This is now 2020 and here is Casse again with another Derby entrant. He brings Enforceable in with much less fanfare as he has not won since an impressive score in the LeComte Stakes at the Fairgrounds in Louisiana on January 18. Always able to cultivate talent Casse has taken some time and nurtured this son Tapit of back into a real contender.
“We had to take some time and get him back to being a happy horse,” says Casse. Taking a bit of a break has been really good for him. Right now, I think he is probably better than I’ve ever seen him.”
Enforceable’s last start was a fourth place finish in the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland on July 11. Knowing his horse was not 100 % ready, Casse was very pleased with the effort and feels it was a big step in the right direction to get that race in him.
“We knew going into the Bluegrass he was at about 85 % but he really needed to run,” says Casse. “He came out of the race in great shape and has looked fantastic since.”
Coming into the Kentucky Derby right is always a trainer’s goal. That is something Casse feels he has in his favor right now. One of the other things he would like is a little something synonymous with a four leaf clover.
“I don’t think I could ask for our horse to be doing any better than he is right now,” says Casse. “We know there are some really talented runners in the field so the question is where do we fit into that group? Obviously we think he belongs and with a little racing luck we can prove that. Goodness knows we are due for some Derby racing luck. He’s going to running at the end so hopefully things can set up for him in all the right ways.”
The 146th running of the Kentucky Derby is slated for Saturday, September 5 at Churchill downs.