Trainer Mark Casse will be busy saddling horses at the Ocala Training Center for Ocala Breeders' Sales Company stakes races Monday, March 11 where he has entered six horses, including at least one in each of the day's four stakes races.
The OBS Championship Stakes (colts and geldings division) appears to offer grade II-placed Indiano Jones an opportunity to break through for his first stakes victory. Trained by Casse, John Oxley's Indiano Jones placed third in both the Summer Stakes (Can-II) on the Woodbine turf and Grey Stakes (Can-III) on the Woodbine Polytrack last year before finishing off the board in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs in the first career dirt start for the A.P. Indy colt.
While Indiano Jones makes his seasonal debut, Casse also will send out Oxley's Sky Commander, a son of Sky Mesa who finished second in the Pasco Stakes (won by stablemate Dynamic Sky, also owned by Oxley) before being pulled up and walked off in a Feb. 16 allowance-optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park.
A field of nine is expected for the 1 1/16-mile race on the Ocala Training Center's synthetic surface (Safetrack). Other top contenders include stakes winner Brown Almighty and Jack Milton, a promising maiden winner for trainer Todd Pletcher.
The OBS Championship (colts and geldings division), as well as the other three stakes races scheduled, are for 3-year-olds and restricted to horses who passed through the OBS sales ring.
Casse also appears to hold a strong hand for the $100,000 OBS Championship Stakes (fillies division) where he will send out two fillies by Spring At Last with Breeders' Cup experience in Gary Barber and Stoneway Farm's Spring Venture and Oxley's Spring in the Air.
Spring Venture rolled to three victories, including scores in grade II and grade III stakes, in her first three starts last year at Woodbine before finishing 13th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT). She opened this season with a fifth-place finish on dirt in the Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream but will return to a synthetic surface for the OBS Championship.
While Spring Venture is 3-for-3 on synthetic surfaces, Spring in the Air has won two of three career synthetic surface starts including a victory in the Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland. Spring in the Air will be making her first start since finishing fifth in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) on dirt at Santa Anita. Casse reported that Spring in the Air suffered exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage in that race.
Awaiting the two Casse starters in the 1 1/16-mile filly division will be West Point Thoroughbreds' Toasting, who finished third in last year's Frizette Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. Trained by Tom Albertrani, the Congrats filly rolled to a 5 3/4-length victory in her previous start, a 1 1/16-mile allowance-optional claiming race Feb. 13 at Gulfstream.
Casse also will send out first-time starter Send an Angel in the $50,000 OBS Sprint Stakes (fillies division) and maiden Conquestor in the $50,000 OBS Sprint Stakes (colts and geldings division.) In the fillies division of the Sprint, James and Alice Sapara's Leinan will try to secure her second career stakes victory while in the male division Rick Shanley's Pro Prospect appears to be a threat on the front end.
$100,000 OBS Championship Stakes (colts and geldings division) (race 4, approximate post time 2:30 p.m.) 3YO males who passed through OBS Sales ring, 1 1/16 miles, Safetrack, all carry 122 pounds
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Sky Commander, P. Husbands, M. Casse
2. Hesa Big Dude, J. Campbell, J. Nixon
3. Indiano Jones, J. Rosario, M. Casse
4. Michael With Us, E. Prado, S. DiMauro
5. Rico Suave, R. Allen, R. Slomkowski
6. Brazilian Court, J. Rosario, M. Maker
7. Uptown Anthem, J. Leyva, W. Kaplan
8. Brown Almighty, T. Thompson, T. Ice
9. Jack Milton, J. Velazquez, T. Pletcher
$100,000 OBS Championship Stakes (fillies division) (race 3, approximate post time 2 p.m.) 3YO fillies who passed through OBS Sales ring, 1 1/16 miles, Safetrack, all carry 120 pounds
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Wickapeko, J. Rocco, S. Margolis
2. Cotton Pickin, R. Allen, D. Ryan
3. One Eye Cap, no rider, P. Maestre
4. Cupids Messenger, J. Leyva, W. Kaplan
5. Spring Venture, L. Saez, M. Casse
6. Toasting, J. Rosario, T. Albertrani
7. Time is Forever, A. Gonzalez, J. Hayford-Quinones
8. Spring in the Air, P. Husbands, M. Casse