(from Woodbine report)
Trainer Mark Casse celebrated his 1,000th victory Aug. 9 when the 2-year-old filly Laragh won the first race at Woodbine.
Casse, the Toronto oval's top juvenile trainer for the past 10 years, reached the milestone in a $66,000 maiden allowance with Laragh, a second-time starter by Tapit .
"It's exciting. It's nice to have everybody come up and congratulate you," said Casse. "If you told me when I started I was going to win 1,000 races, I would be happy and excited about it."
The gray filly was piloted by Patrick Husbands, with whom Casse has teamed for 451 victories. Laragh, owned and bred by Mike Ryan, led all the way to defeat 11-10 favorite Van Lear Rose by 1 3/4 lengths.
"It was nice to do it with Patrick. He's been a big part of it," Casse noted.
Over the past week, as the 47-year-old trainer approached the milestone, he said it's given him time to put the achievement into perspective.
"It's given me time to reflect upon all the places I've been and all the different things that have happened during my career," said the two-time Sovereign Award winner.
The Indianapolis native said his son, assistant trainer Norman Casse Jr., alerted him to the upcoming plateau.
"I hadn't even thought about it," said Casse. "Norm had first mentioned it to me last fall or this past winter. He said, 'Dad, you're going to get your 1,000th winner sometime this year.'"
Casse's 998th winner came at Saratoga with Skipadate. With the stable operating a small contingent at Saratoga and racing a couple of horses in stakes at Assiniboia Downs, there was a chance the milestone could have been clinched away from Woodbine.
"I would have been disappointed had we done it somewhere else," said Casse. "Honestly, I really wanted to do it at Woodbine."
On and off the track, Casse said he feels like he's an ambassador for Woodbine, where he's won 545 races since starting his local stable in 1998.
"Everywhere I travel, everyone looks at me as being from Woodbine," said Casse. "When I'm running somewhere else or talking about track surfaces, I feel like I'm representing Woodbine. That's important to me."