Churchill Downs news: Casse 'barn favorite' looks to make the grade

Photo: Michael Burns/Woodbine

Trainer Mark Casse’s locally-based assistant Nick Tomlinson is eagerly awaiting Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Commonwealth Turf as his “barn favorite” March to the Arch tries for his first graded stakes win at Churchill Downs.

“He’s been one of those horses that I absolutely love to be around at the barn,” said Tomlinson, 24, who oversees about 36 horses for Casse at the historic Louisville oval. “He’s doing really well leading into this race, and I’m hoping we can get him his first graded stakes victory. He came back to Churchill in October and he’s just a really fun horse to be around.”

March to the Arch, a homebred from Charlotte Webber’s Live Oak Plantation, has reeled off three victories through nine starts in his career, including a 1 ¾-length score in the $100,000 Toronto Cup at Woodbine in late July.

Jockey Julien Leparoux has the call on the gelded son of Arch in the Commonwealth and will break from post position No. 4 as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line odds.

March to the Arch began his career in South Florida at Gulfstream Park where he broke his maiden at second asking. The Florida-bred most recently finished fourth in the Hill Prince (GII) at Belmont Park and third in the Saranac (GIII) at Saratoga.

The Commonwealth, run at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course for 3-year-olds, is carded as Race 10 of 11 with a post time of 5:36 p.m. (all times Eastern). First post Saturday is 1 p.m.

The complete Commonwealth Turf field from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds):
Reride (Florent Geroux, Steve Asmussen, 4-1); Marzo (Albin Jiminez, Ben Colebrook, 12-1); Sniper Kitten (Tyler Gaffalione, Mike Maker, 7-2); March to the Arch (Leparoux, Casse, 5-2); Year of the Kitten (Corey Lanerie, Maker, 15-1); Zero Gravity (Adam Beschizza, Joe Sharp, 8-1); and Hot Springs (Ricardo Santana Jr., SteveAsmussen, 2-1).


CHURCHILL DOWNS RACING CLUB BACK IN WINNER’S CIRCLE WITH RARE FORM – The Churchill Downs Racing Club silks were donned in the winner’s circle for the 10th time Thursday when 3-year-old Rare Form recorded a front-running 2 ¾-length score in a 6 ½ furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs.

“It was great to see so many people happy after that win,” trainer Dale Romans’ assistant BaldemarBahena said. “We had to be patient with this horse with a couple of issues that popped up but I’m glad everyone was finally rewarded.”

Rare Form, ridden by Robby Albarado, returned $16 for his victory and earned $45,600 in purse earnings.

Rare Form was donated to the Churchill Downs Racing Club by
 Spendthrift Farm’s B. Wayne Hughes and the majority of his purse earnings will be donated to the City of Hope Pediatric Cancer Research Hospital in Los Angeles.

Hughes also set up a similar structure with the Fair Grounds Racing Club and more than $100,000 was donated to City of Hope, said Racing Club Manager Gary Palmisano. 

The Churchill Downs Racing Club was inaugurated in 2016 to give horse racing fans an insider’s look at horse ownership. To date, more than 50 club members have joined other ownership groups, according to Palmisano.

The eight horses that have competed under the Churchill Downs Racing Club banner have earned $995,366, led by Grade 3 winner Warrior’s Club’s $724,104.


DOWN THE STRETCH  Racing at Churchill Downs continued Friday with a first post of 1 p.m. (all times Eastern). There is an $81,493 carryover in the 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot that begins in Race 5 at 3:03 p.m.


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