The focus of trainer Mark Casse’s operation is east of the Mississippi and in Canada. But the Indiana native who has become one of the most successful Thoroughbred conditioners in North America – No. 5 in 2017 with more than $9 million in purse earnings and nearly $18 million in 2016 – is no stranger to Del Mar.
Casse won the Best Pal Stakes in the summer of 2014 with Skyway and then came out that fall for the inaugural Bing Crosby meeting with a string of horses and his family and left with victories in the Seabiscuit (Kaigun), Cecil B. DeMille (Conquest Typhoon) and Jimmy Durante (Ol’ Fashion Gal) stakes.
And on the Pacific Classic Day card Saturday, Casse will be represented in the two major supporting stakes. He has Monster Bea (20-1) in the Grade II $250,000 Del Mar Handicap presented by the Japan Racing Association and Dream Dancing (6-1) in the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Oaks.
Monster Bea is winless in seven starts since his 12-1 upset in the Oceanside Stakes on opening day of the 2016 summer meeting, when trained by Peter Miller. Dream Dancing opened her 2017 campaign with two wins at Gulfstream Park, the second in a Grade III stakes, but is 0-for-4 since, at four different tracks in graded stakes against some of the better 3-year-old turf fillies in the East.
“We know they’re both capable of running big races at any time and we’re hoping that (Saturday) is the time,” Casse said Friday morning from Saratoga, N.Y.
Monster Bea has 2017 starts at Churchill Downs, Belmont Park and Woodbine , with a runner-up in an optional claiming event at Belmont Park the best result.
“Two of them were his fault and one wasn’t,” Casse said. “The one at Belmont Park he should have won, but human error by the jockey cost him the race.”
Dream Dancing chased home stablemate La Coronel in two of her four losses since the wins in Florida. Shipping here separates the two fillies – La Coronel runs in the Lake Placid Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga – and provides an opportunity for success in a Grade I event.
“We’d like to keep the fillies separate and La Colonel has been to England and back. So we sent the least travelled of the two,” Casse said.
Dream Dancing, a gray daughter of Tapit, comes in off a disappointing seventh of 10 in the Lake George at Saratoga on July 21 when she had a wide trip from the outside No. 10 post under Julien Leparoux.
“I think Julien would tell you that was not one of his finer performances,” Casse said. Leparoux retains the mount and will make a rare appearance at Del Mar. No. 7 among North American riders for purse innings in 2017 according to Equibase statistics, Leparoux has eight Del Mar stakes victories with seven of them – including the Del Mar Oaks with Discreet Marq – coming in 2013.
Source: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club