Trainer Mark Casse has never before missed a race with the magnitude of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-I) when he has a contender with the status of champion Tepin, but he will today.
Bad weather stretching from the Midwest into Ontario grounded a Sept. 17 flight Casse arranged with Scott Dilworth, the co-owner of Woodbine Mile entrant Tower of Texas, that was to take them from Lexington to Toronto. They both were attending the ongoing Keeneland September yearling sale.
"One pilot wanted to fly, the other pilot did not," said Casse, seated in a small office in the Keeneland sale pavilion. "Scott called me at 10:30 this morning and asked, 'So what do you want to do?' I told him I vote for two pilots."
Casse said he is sad to miss watching his multiple grade I-winning star take on the boys in the $1 million Woodbine Mile—the first time he’s missed one of Tepin's races—but he knows Robert Masterson’s 5-year-old daughter of Bernstein is in good hands.
"If it wasn’t for Norman and the horse sale, I would have been there five days ago," Casse said. "But I’m here looking for the next Tepin or the next Catch a Glimpse. She is in good hands; Norman knows her better than anyone and the crew we have at Woodbine has been with us for 25 years."
Casse said when he called Masterson to let him know what happened, there was a pause in the conversation.
"I quickly told him, 'Don’t worry, Julien went up yesterday. He’s there,' '' Casse said, referring to Tepin’s jockey Julien Leparoux.
"Oh, thank God!" was Masterson’s relieved response.
Casse said he’ll drive to Churchill Downs in mid-afternoon and watch the Woodbine Mile from there. All things considered, Casse said he is quite happy to keep his feet comfortably on the ground.
“As much as I travel, I am not a great traveler,” he said. “I am not much for turbulence. I follow the saying, 'it is better to be on the ground and wish you were in the air than to be in the air and wish you were on the ground.' "