Norman E. Casse, who helped build the Florida breeding and sales industry and patriarch of a family of horsemen, died March 6 at his farm in Ocala, Fla., after a lengthy illness. He was 79.
Casse, who operated the successful Cardinal Hill Farm and a van company, helped start the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. in 1974 and served as the organization's chairman for 27 years until his retirement in 2006.
A memorial is scheduled for 6 p.m. EDT March 13 at OBS.
His three sons all followed him in the business: Mark is a multiple Sovereign Award-winning trainer in Canada and one of North America's leading trainers; Justin operates a successful pinhooking and sales operation; and John sells equine insurance and owns horses alone and in partnership.
An Indianapolis, Ind., native, Casse first became involved with horse breeding in partnership with the late Richard Broadbent, founder of Bloodstock Research and Information Services, in Indiana and eventually served as president of the Indiana Thoroughbred Breeders' Association.
Among the horses bred by Casse individually or in partnership were Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) winner Beldale Ball, multiple grade II winner and sire Lost Code (sold for $7,300), multiple graded stakes winner Isitingood (sold by Casse at auction for $87,000), multiple stakes winner Doyouseewhatisee ($85,000), and multiple grade III winner Ifyoucouldseemenow ($70,000).
Among the other top horses he sold at auction was champion Gilded Time ($80,000).
Casse said at the time of his retirement that one of his greatest accomplishments was establishment by OBS of a feed company, a controversial decision because it put the entity in competition with a private feed company.
"The shareholders fought me on that one, but fortunately I won," Casse said. "I figured we had a built-in market of 85 shareholders, and others in the area that needed an alternative. There have been times when the feed company made more than the sales company."
Michael O'Farrell, whose late father Joseph O'Farrell was also one of the leaders of the Florida industry at the same time as Casse, recalled the late breeder and sales company executive.
"Norman was an integral part of the industry for a long time," said O'Farrell, who succeeded Casse as OBS chairman. "He got involved in all the different organizations, bred and owned a lot of nice horses. He was energetic and likable and did extremely well. He helped a lot of people in the industry."
Other survivors are his wife, Galina, and grandchildren Cheryl, Norman, Joel, Camille, Alex, Camden, Cade, Kyle, Colby, and Maxwell.
Donations suggested to the Martez Hawkins Fund, 6851 Southwest 66th Street, Ocala, Fla., 34476.