Mark E. Casse

Mark Casse was 12 years old when he and his father, Norman, rode together in a horse van from Florida to attended the 1973 Kentucky Derby. After witnessing the mighty Secretariat win the Run for the Roses, young Casse decided that following in his father’s footsteps to pursue a career with thoroughbreds would be his life’s calling.

Inducted

2020

Born

Feb. 14, 1961, Indianapolis, Indiana

Career

1979-

Wins

3,013

Earnings

$184,015,704

Racing Record

16.39

Win %

Biography

Mark Casse was 12 years old when he and his father, Norman, rode together in a horse van from Florida to attended the 1973 Kentucky Derby. After witnessing the mighty Secretariat win the Run for the Roses, young Casse decided that following in his father’s footsteps to pursue a career with thoroughbreds would be his life’s calling.

“The stands trembled. It gave me chills all over,” Casse said of experiencing Secretariat’s Derby victory.

That day at Churchill inspired Casse to pursue a career as a trainer. 

“It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do my whole life,” Casse said.

A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Casse has enjoyed a career of consistent excellence in both the United States and Canada. In 1978, at the age of 17, Casse took out his trainer’s license in Massachusetts. He was 18 when he won his first race as a trainer with Joe’s Coming at Keeneland on April 14, 1979.

Casse learned the game from his father, who bought and sold horses on a small Indiana farm before relocating the family to Ocala, Fla., and founding the successful Cardinal Hill Stable. Norman Casse also helped build the Florida breeding and sales industry. He chaired the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. for 28 years after being one of the people who established the organization in 1974. Norman Casse died in 2016, only a few months prior to Mark’s induction into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

“He was my biggest fan,” Casse said of  his father. “He introduced me to this great sport.”

Elite status in the training game didn’t come overnight for Casse. Although he had some success in Kentucky in the 1980s (he was the leading trainer at Churchill Downs for the 1988 spring meet), Casse didn’t become a major presence nationally until the 21st century. It took him more than 20 years to win his first Grade 1 races — the 2001 Selene Stakes with Dark Ending at odds of 20-1 and that year’s Metropolitan Handicap with Exciting Story at 56-1 — and he was 0-for-23 in the Breeders’ Cup before Catch a Glimpse (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Tepin (Mile) broke through with victories in 2015. During his Canadian Hall of Fame induction speech, Casse remembered a time when he was skidding through a winless streak of 35 races and his father sent him a clipping about legendary trainer Charles Whittingham going 0-for-49 during one stretch.

“Positivity abounded,” Casse said.

Casse’s career caught fire at the start of the 21st century. He has won a record 12 Sovereign Awards as Canada’s Outstanding Trainer and earned 11 leading trainer titles at Woodbine. Casse has won eight Canadian Triple Crown races — the Queen’s Plate (2014, 2018), Prince of Wales Stakes (2009, 2012, 2013, 2018), and Breeders’ Stakes (2007, 2018) — and in 2019 he won his first American Triple Crown wins, the Preakness with War of Will and the Belmont with Sir Winston. Along with Catch a Glimpse and Tepin, Casse has won Breeders’ Cup races with Classic Empire (2016 Juvenile), World Approval (2017 Mile), and Shamrock Rose (2018 Filly and Mare Sprint). Classic Empire, Shamrock Rose, Tepin, and World Approval all won Eclipse Awards.

“Training horses — and I’ve said this many times — it’s putting a puzzle together,” Casse said. “You try a lot of pieces and sometimes they don’t fit, but when they do fit, and you get it all worked out, it’s a beautiful picture.”

Through 2020, Casse has trained 18 horses that have won $1 million or more. His highest earner has been Tepin ($4,437,918), winner of 11 graded/group stakes, including the Group 1 Queen Anne at Royal Ascot in England. Casse has won 3,013 races with purse earnings of more than $184 million (No. 9 all time).        

Achievements

Sovereign Award winner for Outstanding Trainer (Canada) — 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Triple Crown Highlights

Won the 2019 Preakness Stakes — War of Will
Won the 2019 Belmont Stakes — Sir Winston

Canadian Triple Crown Highlights

Won the 2014 Queen's Plate — Lexie Lou
Won the 2018 Queen's Plate — Wonder Gadot
Won the 2009 Prince of Wales Stakes — Gallant
Won the 2012 Prince of Wales Stakes — Dixie Strike
Won the 2013 Prince of Wales Stakes — Uncaptured
Won  the 2018 Prince of Wales Stakes — Wonder Gadot
Won the 2007 Breeders' Stakes — Marchfield
Won the 2018 Breeders' Stakes — Neepawa

Breeders' Cup Highlights

Won the 2015 Juvenile Fillies Turf — Catch a Glimpse
Won the 2015 Mile — Tepin
Won the 2016 Juvenile — Classic Empire
Won the 2017 Mile — World Approval
Won the 2018 Filly and Mare Sprint — Shamrock Rose

Media

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