Oxley, Casse Considering Belmont With Stealcase

May 23, 2012 Travers Manley

The morning after Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another ran down Bodemeister in the Pimlico stretch to capture the Preakness (GI), trainer Mark Casse said he is considering running John Oxley’s Stealcase in the 1 ½-mile Belmont (GI), the final jewel of the Triple Crown.

Stealcase, a chestnut son of Lawyer Ron, was put on the Derby trail after breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park in January. He ran sixth in the Gotham (GIII) at Aqueduct and then was fifth in the Vinery Racing Spiral (GIII) on the Polytrack at Turfway Park. His performances in those races did not earn him a spot in the starting gate in the Run for the Roses, but Oxley and Casse did start Tampa Bay Derby (GII) winner Prospective, who finished 18th in the field of 20.

In his most recent start, Stealcase finished third behind Hierro and Paynter in The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII) at Churchill Downs on April 28.

“The Belmont is definitely under consideration,” Casse said. “His last race was big and yesterday (Saturday) Paynter ran a huge race (won an allowance race on Preakness undercard by 5 ¾ lengths).”

Casse said he has always thought highly of Stealcase, who was purchased as a 2-year-old in training for $320,000, and believes he is a Grade I-caliber horse.

“I think the horse fits (in the Belmont),” Casse said. “We’ve always thought he was the best 3-year-old colt in the barn.”

With the Belmont on June 9, Casse said there is plenty of time to make a decision. 

“We’ve got three weeks,” Casse said. “We’ll see who is going before we make a decision. We are also considering the Matt Winn (GIII at Churchill Downs on June 16). If I had to say one way or the other right now, I would say no (to the Belmont). But he’s a possibility.”

Stealcase worked five furlongs in company with Prospective on May 18 at Churchill Downs. The duo recorded a five-furlong time of 1:01.20, which was the second fastest of 17 at the distance. Casse said Stealcase would work beneath the Twin Spires again next weekend.

Bred in Kentucky by Secret Whispers Partnership, Stealcase recorded his lone victory when breaking his maiden and has career earnings of $66,582 from six lifetime starts.

2011 LOUISVILLE HANDICAP WINNER KEERTANA BRED, RETIRED Barbara Hunter’s homebred Keertana, who last year became the first filly or mare to win the Louisville Handicap (GIII) since Our Request in 1951, has been bred and is retired from racing.

The dark bay/brown daughter of Johar won a breathtaking three-horse photo over Bearpath and Guys Reward at Churchill Downs last May in the Louisville, which was her last race of 2011.  Keertana began her 6-year-old campaign with a third-place finish in the Endeavour (GIII) at Tampa Bay Downs in February.

After a third-place effort in the Orchid (GIII) at Gulfstream Park in March, Keertana was bred to Arch, who stands at Claiborne Farm. While plans for her next start had not been determined, Keertana was placed back in training after she was determined to be in foal and trainer Tom Proctor had planned to keep the 6-year-old mare running through the summer. She breezed four furlongs at Churchill Downs in :51.20 on April 27.

But plans have changed.  Proctor said on Saturday that Keertana’s racing days are over and she is now at Hunter’s farm in central Kentucky. 

“We just decided it was time,” Proctor said. “She was nothing but a pleasure. I’ll miss her. She might not be the best filly I’ve ever trained, but she’s one of my favorites. I use to bring people in the barn and let them pet her. It was pretty cool to have an earner of $1 million that you can walk up to and pet.”

Keertana won 11 times, including five graded stakes, in 29 starts and earned $1,031,938.  Outside of her win over males in the Louisville, Keertana’s finest outing could have been a third-place run behind Shared Account and European star Midday in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI).  She lost that race by only a half-length.

Another Hunter homebred Snow Top Mountain has been bred, but she will remain in training. The 5-year-old daughter of Najran was bred to Blame and she will be pointed to the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII), which is to be run on the Matt Winn Turf Course at Churchill Downs on June 2.

Snow Top Mountain and Keertana are both out of the Storm Cat mare Motokiks.

It is not uncommon for mares to stay in training during the early months of their pregnancy. In fact, Magdalena Racing’s My Baby Baby won last year’s Early Times Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill Downs while in foal to two-time Horse of the Year Curlin.

ATTFIELD DUO NAMED 1-2 HIGH WEIGHTS FOR LOUISVILLE HANDICAP Stella Perdomo’s Musketier-GER, a six-time graded stakes winner and earner of more than $1 million, has been assigned the high weight of 121 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman for Saturday’s 75th running of the $100,000-added Louisville Handicap.

The Louisville Handicap is for 3-year-olds and up and is scheduled to be contested at 1 ½ miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.

Musketier raced the first four years of his career in France and his five victories overseas are highlighted by a six-length win in the Prix de Conde (GIII) at Longchamp. He made his United States debut in 2009 and has made the last 21 starts of his career in North America for trainer Roger Attfield. The 10-year-old son of Acatenango-GER is a two-time winner of the Elkhorn (GII) at Keeneland and the Singspiel (GIII) at Woodbine. His most recent victory came in the W. L. McKnight Handicap (GII) at Calder last November.

The next high weight at 120 pounds is Simmard, who also is trained by Attfield. The 7-year-old son of Dixieland Band achieved the biggest win of his career in the Mac Diarmida (GII) at Gulfstream Park in February. Attfield co-owns the chestnut Kentucky bred with William Werner.

Churchill Downs officials believe Attfield will run Musketier or Simmard in the Louisville Handicap.

Other horses believed by Churchill Downs officials to be pointing to the Louisville Handicap include Tahoe Lake-BRZ (trained by Ken McPeek, weighted at 118 pounds), Harrods Creek (Bill Mott, 117), Joinem (David Carroll, 116), Rescue Squad (Shug McGaughey, 116), Derby Kitten (Mike Maker, 115) and Depeche Chat (Rusty Arnold, 113).

Cease (Al Stall Jr., 116) and Guys Reward (Dale Romans, 115) are believed to be possible for the Louisville Handicap.  Cease is the only supplemental nominee to the race.

BARN TALK Bert, Elaine and Richard Klein’s homebred Cash Refund is being pointed to the $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) at Churchill Downs on June 2, according to trainer Steve Margolis. It will be the third start in the Aristides for Cash Refund, who finished third in the stake in 2010 and eighth last year. …

John Oxley’s Floral Sky, who broke her maiden at Churchill Downs on May 17, will be pointed to the $100,000-added Debutante (GIII), according Norman Casse, assistant trainer to his father, Mark. The Debutante is scheduled to be run beneath the Twin Spires on June 23. …

Agent Dennis Cooper said Sunday morning there is no update on jockey Jesus Castanon, who suffered a broken left hand in a fall in Friday’s 10th race at Churchill Downs. Castanon was unable to see a specialist about his hand on Saturday, but is scheduled for an appointment Monday. Cooper said more information will be available after the appointment. Castanon is off his mounts Sunday at Churchill Downs and is not named to ride in any races Thursday. …

Spots are still available for the J. L. “Buck” Wheat Memorial Golf Scramble to benefit Horsemen’s Education on Monday, June 4 at Glenmary Country Club. For more information, call (502) 992-5903 or go to www.derbymuseum.org/backsidelc.

WORKTABStonestreet Stables and George Bolton’s Astrology, winner of the Iroquois (GIII) at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old and third in last year’s Preakness (GI) at Pimlico, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.20 on the fast main track Sunday morning for trainer Steve Asmussen. It was third fastest work of 19 at the distance. …

Mike Walker and Lou Sutterfield’s Amie’s Dini, eighth in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI) in her last start, breezed a bullet five furlongs in :59.20 for trainer Ron Moquett at Churchill Downs on Sunday. …

The Henry E. Pabst Trust’s Joinem, third in the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (GII) at Fair Grounds in his most recent start, breezed five furlongs in 1:04.80 for trainer David Carroll. The 5-year-old gelded son of Johar will make his next start in the Louisville Handicap (GIII) and will be ridden by Calvin Borel, according to agent Jerry Hissam.    

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