Thursday, May 02, 2013

050213-Barn Notes: Wednesday, May 1, 2013

All you have to do is take a gander at the pictures on the grandstand walls to see that champions converge at Arlington International Racecourse. Elite equines, remarkable riders and talented trainers have consistently made their presence known on the first-rate main track and world-renowned turf course for decades, and this will no doubt occur in perpetuity when the season commences in less than 48 hours.

After a strong 2012 trainer colony, and all signs point to 2013 trumping it. Part of that is one of the new resident conditioners, Mark Casse, who brings with him a reputation and clientele of the highest standard.

Though he may be the new kid on the block at Arlington, Casse is a veteran in the world of horseracing. Canada’s champion trainer for seven of the last nine seasons, he made serious waves on the American side by finishing seventh in national earnings in 2012, including a second and third in his own starts at last year’s Arlington meet.

Casse has more than 30 stalls on the backside, and he plans on using them. “We are here to run and we are here to win,” said Casse assistant Randi Melton.

A high-profile stable that includes such stakes stars as Grade I winners Pool Play and Spring in the Air, as well as highly regarded stakes winners Conquestor, Delegation and Spring Venture, you can rest assured that Arlington will see some of these stars at the upcoming meet. This is further supported by the fact that many of his horses have pedigrees that favor grass and synthetic surfaces.

“Spring Venture runs this weekend at Churchill in the Eight Belles Stakes, but you could possibly see her here later on in the meet. There are a lot of great races here for her,” Melton reported. “And, Delegation just won really impressive at Woodbine.”

Melton kept it simple, “It all comes down to where the horses fit. They are thriving here. The atmosphere, weather and surface have been phenomenal. We are familiar with the synthetic, and the horses love it here. The purses are good, and it just makes sense. We will be shipping in from Kentucky, Florida and Woodbine.

“We have quite a few maidens here, and I want to win the first race we run,” Melton said with enthusiasm. Indeed, there is call for spirited optimism, as both of the 2-year-olds that worked this morning, Conquest Rebel and Sky Kisses, earned the bullet of :35.00 for three furlongs. As far as jockeys she thinks the barn will utilize, “Rosemary (Homeister Jr.) and Corey Nakatani, off the top of my head, will probably be used. I’m sure we’ll use lots of riders.”

On the barn’s owner clientele to be represented at Arlington, “we have a couple of nice Oxley (Stable) horses already here, which is great to have. But, it’s always a pleasure to have any owner.” Included in those owners is that of Conquest Rebel, Conquest Stable.

New to the game of racehorse ownership, Ernie Semersky and Dory Newell’s Conquest Stable has made a splash at recent Florida sales to the tune of $950,000 for four horses at Ocala in March. They were also the immediate underbidder for the sale topper at Ocala April.

President and owner of investment conglomerate Semersky Enterprises, Semersky is a local Chicagoan who will undoubtedly have horses running at the upcoming meet. Those could include an exciting $420,000 2-year-old by freshman sire and blistering miler Two Step Salsa purchased at Ocala in April.

It would also not be a surprise to see his first purchase ever, Gunderman, perform at the current meet. A colt who placed behind Kentucky Derby favorite Verrazano earlier this year, Gunderman is on the improve after a win at the optional claiming level at Gulfstream on March 2. Melton says of Semersky, “he’s a Chicago gentleman. He’s new to the business as an owner, and it’s very fortunate that he loves the sport, and is willing to spend the money.”

With a quality ownership clientele and a humble confidence in the Mark Casse barn, it would not be a surprise if the newest addition to the star-studded trainer colony completes his conquest with flying colors.

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