Casse readies his 'best chances' for the 2020 Kentucky Derby

January 15, 2020 09:00am

When it comes to Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Lecomte Stakes, trainer Mark Casse’s expectations are as high as they get.

“We won it last year with War of Will,” Casse said recently, “and we’d like to win it again.”

Casse will send out as many as two formidable contenders in the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep as Enforceable and Lynn’s Map look to repeat for the barn.

Contested at 1 1/16 miles -- slightly longer than the one mile and 70 yards over which War of Will won last year -- the Lecomte awards Derby qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1 basis to its Top 4 finishers.

Enforceable, at 15-1 on the morning line, drew post No. 10 of 14 and will be making his seventh career start in his 3-year-old debut. Owned by John Oxley, the Tapit colt’s latest effort was a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs last November.

“With Enforceable, I would just like for him to get a good trip,” Casse said. “He has caused a lot of his own issues. He broke a little slow in the Jockey Club. (Jockey Florent Geroux) asked him to go when they turned for home and got bothered again. He only got beat by a couple of lengths.

“I was very encouraged by his race. More importantly, he came back and has trained even better coming into this race.”

Julien Leparoux will get the call aboard Enforceable, making him the fifth jockey to pilot the Saratoga maiden winner. Geroux, meanwhile, is taking the return call aboard Mr. Monomoy, a half-brother to the champion Monomoy Girl who he also rides for trainer Brad Cox.

While Casse and Fair Grounds-based assistant trainer David Carroll are “happy” with the post position for Enforceable, it was tougher to stomach Lynn’s Map’s draw: the outside post.

Since dealt that hand, Casse told the Daily Racing Form’s Marcus Hersh that he will enter Lynn’s Map in Oaklawn Park’s Jan 24 Smarty Jones Stakes. With posts drawn Friday and time to realize any scratches in the Lecomte, he can determine a spot to run.

“My first thought was, man, not the 14,” Carroll said of the Lecomte, with Lynn’s Map 5-1 on the morning line. “But he’s been training forwardly and is an improving horse. You want to see improvement every race, and even with this post I think we’ll be fine. Miguel (Mena) will work out a trip and we’ll see what happens.

“The main thing is the horse is doing awfully well and we’re excited about his condition and what he’s shown us. We’ll find out what direction we’ll go from this race.”

Lynn’s Map, who’s 2-for-3 lifetime, is a son of Liam’s Map who won last out in allowance company, defeating future Lecomte rivals Mr. Monomoy and Excession going a mile and 70 yards.

“Lynn’s Map is a pretty good horse. I thought his last race went really well,” Casse said. “Speed was holding pretty good that day in the slop. And talk about a beautiful horse -- he’s beautiful, and he’s versatile.”

Carroll, who won the Lecomte as trainer in 2004 with Fire Slam, knows Lynn’s Map would have his work cut out for him in the Lecomte.

“It looks like there will be some speed toward the inside,” he said. “I’d imagine we’ll just have to break well and drop in somewhere and try to get a good trip going into the first turn.”

That, however, was said before the Smarty Jones came into the picture. While Casse has those high expectations, he’s using these upcoming preps to gauge where his sophomore duo heads next.

“All you want is a fair shot and a good trip so we can find out what Derby we’re heading toward,” the trainer said. “There’s plenty of derbies. I’d rather know sooner than later. These two right now are obviously our best chances for the Kentucky Derby."

Information from Fair Grounds' media relations staff contributed to this report.


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