A Life Well Lived
Photo:
Ray Paulick
Editor-in-Chief
Bill Casner once said he felt like "a kid outside the candy store, looking in at horses I felt I should have had, but couldn't have." That was more than 20 years ago when the Texas native, a struggling trainer in the Midwest with a wife and two small daughters, had arrived at a fork in the road, one leading toward a new career more suited to family life, and the other continuing his gypsy-like existence in racing.
Casner chose family.

Hard work and good fortune led to great success in business, eventually giving Casner the keys to the candy store. With Kenny Troutt, his longtime friend and business partner, Casner in January 2000 purchased Prestonwood Farm in Versailles, Ky., renamed it WinStar, and set his sights sky-high.

During his 20-year hiatus from the Thoroughbred industry, Casner and wife Susan raised their two girls, Kayce and Karri. The Casners have been a family of adventurers who had the opportunity to pursue their passions, whether it was skiing together down the slopes of Aspen, Colo., or, more recently, watching one of their Thoroughbreds racing down the stretch at America's finest tracks.

Karri, the youngest daughter, may have had the greatest appetite for adventure. She skipped one semester at the University of Colorado to sail, going from Cuba to the Bahamas, South America, Africa, and finally India. She graduated in May with a degree in business from the University of Colorado, then spent several months traveling, exploring the options for a professional career, but always looking for adventure.

This fall, Karri visited her sister in Cambodia, where she was working. She and Kayce took a side trip to Thailand to learn how to scuba dive, after which Karri ventured alone to the Indonesian island of Bali to practice her newfound skills.

The 23-year-old found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Karri was one of the nearly 200 people killed in the Oct. 12 bombings of two Bali nightclubs in the largest act of international terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001. She was scheduled to return home two days before the attack, but extended her stay because she was "having the time of her life," her father told the Vail Daily newspaper in Colorado.

"She lived so much more than most people ever live in a lifetime and gave so much to so many people," Casner was quoted as saying. "She left so many people with so much. She made us all better. And that's her No. 1 legacy."

It is difficult to imagine the depth of mourning families and friends of all the victims are now going through. But the Casners' grief is shared by everyone in racing. Karri Casner was a member of that family, too.

BACK TO BELMONT
Belmont Park deserves to play host to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, sooner rather than later, based on the exceptional job done by the New York Racing Association at last year's event, conducted in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. There were hitches at Belmont, the most obvious one being a racing surface that appeared to compromise the chances of horses stuck on the inside part of the track, but the good work far outweighed any bad.

So there were no tears shed here when it was announced the 2005 World Thoroughbred Championships would be relocated away from Churchill Downs because not enough hotel rooms would be available (the date coincided with a national convention of the Future Farmers of America). It's not official yet, but Belmont Park is odds-on to be the 2005 host track.
New York is not only the media capital of the world, but its year-round racing program and industry leadership role have been strengthened under NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz and the management team headed by president Terry Meyocks.

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