Trainers talk about Breeders' Cup hopefuls

A number of trainers spoke of their runners for the 2012 Breeders' Cup races taking place at Santa Anita on Friday and Saturday.

Norman Casse, son and assistant to trainer Mark Casse, assessed the barn's chances for this year's World Championships.

"This year we have come into the Breeders' Cup, probably, better than we ever have (with 10 previous starters). Every one of our five horses (Pool Play, Classic; Delegation, Dirt Mile; Dynamic Sky, Juvenile; Spring in the Air, Juvenile Fillies; Spring Venture, Juvenile Fillies Turf) has trained extremely well and there have not been any hiccups. We feel as though we are live in every race.

"The main reason we ran Pool Play on the dirt, other than the fact he likes it and trained well on it, is that most Polytrack or turf route races typically have slow early fractions and that compromises a horse with a late kick, and he's got a late kick, obviously.

"We've always wanted to get him on the dirt when he'd get more pace to run at. He hasn't had that yet. He won the (Grade 1) Stephen Foster (in 2011), even though that had a modest pace to run at.

"He ran in the (Grade 2) Hawthorne Gold Cup (last out) and they didn't run fast that day and he still won. We're hoping for a faster pace in the Classic and hopefully, he can show off his kick and how good he is."

On what a Breeders' Cup win for Norman, who was married two months ago to one of the stable's exercise riders, the former Melanie Giddings, would mean to the Casse stable, "That would be a nice wedding present. It would be the ultimate. This year has been incredible already and to win a Breeders' Cup would be the icing on the cake."

Trainer Todd Pletcher has nine horses entered in Breeders' Cup events, but is looking forward to one in particular.

"Obviously we're pretty excited about most of our horses, but the Juvenile with Shanghai Bobby is a race that looks to be really important in terms of his ability and potential," he said. "We don't worry about that Juvenile-Derby jinx talk. We just want to get him through this race in good shape and worry about what happens later -- well later.

"He's progressed perfectly, going farther each race and stepping up in class. We're not concerned about the Lasix issue or the two turns. We'll just wait and see how it all plays out.

"We also are pretty excited about the two Juvenile Fillies (Kauai Katie and Dreaming of Julia). That should be a great race. We've had some horses out here for several weeks like Love and Pride (Ladies' Classic), and we're hoping that strategy pays off."

Trainer Steve Asmussen knows it will be tough to duplicate last year when he won the Juvenile Fillies with My Miss Aurelia and Turf Sprint with Regally Ready, but all six of his runners are giving him every indication they are ready to run big. My Miss Aurelia, who is a perfect six-for-six, is among a tough field entered in Friday's Ladies' Classic.

"We're getting excited now and ready to get the weekend started," Asmussen said. "We're just hoping for safe, clean trips for all our horses. They've all had really good weeks and done what they needed to do."

Asmussen has just the one starter Friday, but five runners on Saturday -- Tapizar (Dirt Mile), Justin Phillip (Sprint), Dust and Diamonds (Filly & Mare Sprint), Great Mills (Turf Sprint) and Unbridled's Note (Turf Sprint).

"Everything's good," said trainer Doug O'Neill in an upbeat manner from Barn 88 at Santa Anita Friday morning in his assessment of seven entrants in six Breeders' Cup races.

"Everything is going great and we're ready to roll," O'Neill said. "I'm so pumped.

"I think both horses in the Classic have huge chances," he added in regard to Richard's Kid and Handsome Mike. "I think Know More and He's Had Enough have huge chances too (in the Juvenile Turf and Juvenile, respectively)."

Trainer Tom Albertrani will saddle two runners on Saturday, sending out Brilliant Speed in the Classic and Belle of the Hall in the Filly & Mare Sprint.

"With Brilliant Speed I'm just going to go by the way the horse is training. To me he's training as well as ever. He looks exceptionally well. He looks like he's at the top of his game right now, so it makes me more confident. We actually got a pretty good draw the six-hole right next to Game on Dude. I know there's going to be pace there.

"If we're in a good stalking position with a good clean trip I think we'll hopefully be laying about five lengths off the leaders into the first turn. Hopefully he'll improve his position as he goes. It's Game on Dude's home turf, so he has something of a home-field advantage. Obviously, we think we have a chance."

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