Thursday, November 19, 2020
MIAMI GARDENS - Ocala's Mark Casse became the 34th trainer in thoroughbred racing history to win 3,000 races today when Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Watson scored a decisive 1 ¾-length victory in Race 3 at Gulfstream West.
The 59-year-old son of the late Norman Casse, who was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame earlier this year, watched the milestone win on TV from his Ocala farm.
“It feels good," Casse said. "I watched it with my son, Colby, and we gave each other high-fives and celebrated.” I’m happy to be able to do it for [Live Oak Plantation’s] Mrs. [Charlotte] Weber.”
Nick Tomlinson, Casse’s South Florida-based assistant trainer, saddled Souper Watson ($17), who graduated under jockey Miguel Vasquez while coming off a 6 ½-month layoff in the 7 ½-furlong maiden special weight race on turf.
“This is something I’ve just wanted to do my entire life," Casse said. " Milestones mean a lot. This has made me think back over the years. I went through a period of seven or eight years where I didn’t train many horses. We kicked back in, I want to say, 20 years ago. When we won 1,000, I said, ‘Well, that was nice.’ Then, when we won 2,000, I said, ‘I don’t think there will be 3,000.’ I don’t know if there will be 4,000. We’ll see.”
Souper Watson entered the race off a sixth-place finish at Gulfstream Park in an April 25 maiden special weight event that has turned out to be a mega key race. All eight of the 3-year-old son of Ghostzapper’s rivals have gone on to graduate, including four next-out winners.
“I was just talking with my assistant, Nick Tomlinson. We weren’t shocked at all,” Casse said. “We honestly thought he was a pretty good horse early on. That last race came up a little tough. We sent him home and gave him a little break and he came back blockbusters.”
Born in Indiana, Casse took out his trainer’s license at the age of 17 in Massachusetts. He saddled his first winner, Joe’s Coming, in 1979 at Keeneland and his first graded stakes-winner in 1984 when winning the Gr. III Jamaica at Belmont Park with Raja’s Shark.
A 12-time Sovereign Award winner, Casse is ranked sixth in North America this year in wins (172) and purse earnings ($10.7 million). Just a few of Casse’s many highlights include saddling winners in the 2019 Preakness (War of Will) and 2019 Belmont (Sir Winston) and training two-time champion Tepin, winner of the Gr. I Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Casse has won training titles at Woodbine, Keeneland, Churchill Downs and Turfway Park.
(Editor's note:) Mark's first interview for any publication came when he was 15 years old and was based on what a great handicapper his dad claimed he was. The interviewer was, of all people, the guy whose picture is at the top of this page.
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