Mark E. Casse Profile
|Name||Mark E. Casse|
|Born||Feb 14, 1961|
A member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, Casse is one of the most successful Thoroughbred trainers in North America.
Mark E. Casse is one of the leading Thoroughbred racehorse trainers in North America.
He has won multiple awards, including 12 Sovereign Awards for outstanding trainer in Canada, while he has also taken the title of leading trainer at Woodbine Racetrack 14 times.
Casse has been responsible for a number of top runners including 2015 American champion turf mare Tepin, as well as Lexie Lou, Catch a Glimpse and Wonder Gadot.
He has a career record of over 3,000 wins, 2,750 seconds and 2,450 thirds from over 18,500 starts. His total purse earnings are above $186million.
Racing in the family
Casse's family was always involved in horse racing, with his father operating Cardinal Hill Farm in Ocala, Florida. He was also one of the founders of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company. Both of Casse's brothers, John and Justin Casse, were also involved in the sport, with the latter being a bloodstock agent in Ocala.
Mark Casse had an affinity for racing ever since going to the original Woodbine Racetrack's Spring meet when he was eight years old. Along with his father, he also visited Churchill Downs in 1973, where he witnessed legendary racehorse Secretariat win the Kentucky Derby.
Early training career
Casse's training career kicked off way back in 1976 at the age of 15 when he began taking over his father's operation. Two years later, Casse received his training license in Massachusetts, while at the age of 18, he received his Kentucky trainer's license and won his first-ever race at Keeneland Racetrack.
The trainer had his first stakes winner in 1979 when Amalue took the Indian Maid at Sportsman's Park.
Casse started becoming a leading trainer in 1988 when he won the Churchill Downs' Spring meet trainer's title. During that time, he took four Turfway Park trainer titles too, while he was the private trainer for Calumet Farm for a period of two years.
Casse was the private trainer of Harry Mangurian in the 1990s and he also operated Mockingbird Farm. The stable was responsible for around 900 horses in Ocala, Florida.
Move to Canada
In 1998, Casse's main base became Woodbine Racetrack despite already running races at the track for years. The move to Canada marked the beginning of his most prestigious run. In 1999, just one year after arriving at the track, he trained champion two-year-old colt Exciting Story, who also won the Sovereign Award.
In 2001, Casse earned his first Grade 1 stakes victories with Dark Ending in the Selene Stakes and Exciting Story in the Metropolitan Handicap. The latter runner really upset the field, coming in at 56/1.
In 2002, Casse won an impressive 69 races at the track to receive his first Woodbine training title. During that campaign, his stakes-winning trainees included Canada's champion two-year-old Added Edge, who claimed the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct.
Casse's next major campaign came in 2006 when he secured his first Kentucky Derby starter in Seaside Retreat, who finished 10th. Casse's runners took a total of 11 stakes races that year, with his most notable victory coming with Kimchi in the Woodbine Oaks for Canadian-bred three-year-old fillies. He also won his first Sovereign Award that year.
2007 saw Casse claim another Woodbine training title along with his second Sovereign Award. That same year, he won the Canadian Triple Tiara and various other big stakes races with Sealy Hill, the trainer's first Canadian Horse of the Year.
Sealy Hill was the runner-up finisher in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf before going on to be inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Casse won his third straight Sovereign Award that year too.
Casse's fifth consecutive Woodbine training title came in 2011 when he won a record 119 events. He also secured his fourth Sovereign Award, which was to start a run of eight consecutive gongs through to 2018 inclusive.
His total of 13 stakes victories in 2011 included the Grey Stakes, a race where Casse had the top three finishers. That same year, Pool Play provided him with his first Grade 1 win since 2001 in the Stephen Foster Stakes, coming in at 36/1.
Casse was ranked seventh in North America by earnings among trainers in 2012. He trained Uncaptured, his second Canadian Horse of the Year. Uncaptured won races like the Clarendon, Swynford and Vandal Stakes at Woodbine. He also took the Iroquois Stakes and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Casse secured his first Queen's Plate victory in 2014. He trained winning filly Lexie Lou in Canada's premier race, and she went on to become Canadian Horse of the Year. He finished that year holding the sixth spot for most earnings by a North American trainer.
Casse's recent accolades
2015 was a big year for Casse as he won his first two Breeders' Cup events. He took the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf with Catch a Glimpse and the Breeders' Cup Mile with Tepin.
Catch a Glimpse became that year's Canadian Horse of the Year and Tepin went on to win the Eclipse Award for champion turf mare. Casse closed out the 2015 season with the fourth-highest earnings among North American trainers.
In 2016, Casse was awarded once again with Tepin, who won multiple major stakes races including the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in England. The trainer's other notable horses that year included Lexie Lou, World Approval, Kaigun, Noble Bird and Pretty City Dancer, all stakes winners.
Casse took his 2,000th victory at Gulfstream Park that year and he was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. One of his runners, Classic Empire, became a leading contender for the 2017 Kentucky Derby with a victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
The trainer had another Kentucky Derby leading contender with War of Will in 2019. The runner won two major prep races at Fair Grounds when he took the Lecomte Stakes and Risen Star Stakes. In the Derby, the colt faced interference from first-place finisher Maximum Security, who was subsequently disqualified.
After finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby, War of Will went on to win the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, which was Casse's first American Classic win. He then took his second with Sir Winston's victory in the Belmont Stakes later that year.
Trained by Casse, Souper Watson won a race at Gulfstream Park West in November 2020 to provide the trainer with his 3,000th win.
Casse's best performer in the 2021 Kentucky Derby was Helium, who finished eighth. His Soup and Sandwich finished last of 19 runners.