Photo: Woodbine Entertainment
Trainer Mark Casse expects Delegation to run a much-improved race in
Sunday’s $100,000 Hal’s Hope (G3) at Gulfstream Park, buoyed by the
knowledge that his 4-year-old gelding was not at his fittest in his
second-place finish behind Csaba in the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday at
Gulfstream on Dec. 16.
“That horse trained on synthetic his entire career. When we brought
him out to Santa Anita, we thought it was as close as you can get to
running on synthetic, because it’s faster and horses seem to skip over
it. I wasn’t really concerned with it. I thought he ran really well,”
said Casse, who saddled Delegation for a third-place finish in the
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) prior to his runner-up finish in the
Harlan’s Holiday. “He came out of the race a little tired, as most
horses would be. But when he ran him at Gulfstream, he was exhausted.
That is a much more trying surface.”
Delegation was one of Casse’s five Breeders’ Cup starters who got
sick upon leaving Santa Anita, and had only two breezes before the
Although confident that Delegation will be fitter for the Hal’s Hope, he’s not about to predict victory.
“I think he should be a better horse than he was three weeks ago.
But, I’m going to tell you, he going to have to be a lot better horse,
because the winner was impressive. I’m not taking anything away from
him. That was impressive,” said Casse of Csaba, who won by nearly four
lengths in the Harlan’s Holiday. “I’m not sure we can beat him, but
we’re going to give it one more try.”
Casse, though, has very high expectations for Gary Barber’s Delegation as the 2013 racing season unfolds.
“I think if Delegation continues to improve, I think he will be one of
the best older horses in North America this year,” he said.
Casse will also saddle William Farish Jr.’s Pool Play, a late
supplement for the one-turn, one-mile Hal’s Hope, which he hopes will
serve as a prep for the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream on
“We don’t have any other spots. He isn’t eligible for any allowance
races. The mile is definitely too short for him. Initially, we weren’t
going to go there, but after much discussion, Bill Farish and I, decided
that it was the best of the worst scenarios,” Casse said. “Bill and I
thought the best chance for him to have any chance of making the Donn,
he’d have to run there, and that’s why we supplemented him.”
Pool Play, who finished off-the-board in the Breeders’ Cup Classic
(G1) last time out, previously captured the Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) on
Oct. 6, “As a trainer, he’s one of my proudest accomplishments,” Casse
said. “He started his career late. I didn’t have him as a 2-year-old,
but he was injured before he ever went to the races. He was owned by
WinStar, who bought him as a weanling, and as a 3-year-old, I ran him a
couple times. WinStar sells a lot of their horse in November of their
3-year-old year, and he was in a sale. I called Bill and told him I
thought he was a talented horse. Bill bought him for $180,000 and he’s
won $1.2 million.”
Pool Play’s biggest victory came in the 2011 Stephen Foster (G1) at Churchill Downs.
"After he won the Foster, we took him to Saratoga and the first week
we got there, he was injured. The (tendon) injury was a significant
injury, bad enough that two vets who examined him doubted he’d ever come
back. He came back. When he won the Hawthorne Gold Cup, in my thoughts,
it was one of the biggest training feats of my career,” said Casse, who
had prepped the 8-year-old son of Silver Deputy on turf and synthetic
surfaces to prime him for the Hawthorne Gold Cup.