Elysian Field comes on late to capture $500,000 Woodbine Oaks
TORONTO — Trainer Mark Casse could have a formidable 1-2 punch in next month’s $1-million King’s Plate.
Casse-trained horses won both the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks and $150,000 Plate Trial on Sunday. That puts the veteran conditioner in the enviable position of potentially having the top two favourites for the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown on Aug. 20 at Woodbine Racetrack.
“Yeah, that’s kind of nice,” said Casse, a two-time Plate winner. “I don’t mind that at all.”
Elysian Field won the Oaks impressively, overtaking stablemate Ticker Tape Home and jockey Patrick Husbands in deep stretch en route to a 2 1/4-length win. Elysian Field, a 5/1 pick with Sahin Civaci aboard, won the 1 1/8-mile race on Woodbine’s Tapeta course in 1:49.83 despite running into a stiff breeze.
Civaci took Elysian Field to sixth to start the race and had the horse sitting seventh but running very comfortably after three-quarters of a mile.
“Honestly, the horse was great,” Civaci said. “I just had a good trip overall, and she came running.”
Earlier, Husbands rode 11/1 long-shot Paramount Prince to a convincing five-length, wire-to-wire Plate Trial victory. Paramount Prince covered the identical 1 1/8-mile distance on the Tapeta course in 1:49.99 despite running into a stiff breeze and in rainy conditions.
Husbands earned a fourth Trial win.
“Looking at the race, seeing how it would unfold, all the trainers are going to say, ‘Take back’ and I can get everything my way,” Husbands said. “And the race unfolded that way.”
Stanley House, the even-money favourite ridden by Luis Contreras, finished sixth.
Casse, 15 times Canada’s top thoroughbred trainer, said should both of his horses come out of their races well, they’ll square off next month at Woodbine.
“They’re both big, strong horses and they ran almost equal times,” Casse said. “I’d say as long as they’re happy and healthy, there’s only one King’s Plate ? this is what it’s all about.”
Casse said one factor working in Elysian Field’s favour regarding a King’s Plate appearance is having a month off to recover and prepare for the 1 1/4-mile race. Both of Casse’s previous Plate wins have come with fillies (Lexi Lou in 2014, Wonder Gadot in 2018) but the two horses did so just three weeks after running in the Oaks.
In ’14, Lexi Lou completed the Oaks-Plate double. Wonder Gadot’s Plate win came after a second-place finish in the Oaks.
“It’s a difference,” Casse said of the extra week. “We’ve won the Plate twice with fillies so fillies can do it.”
Wickenheiser, with Kazushi Kimura aboard, was second in the 14-horse Oaks field. Fortyfiveseventy, ridden by Ryan Munger, took third.
After surrendering the lead, Ticker Tape Home finished fifth, five lengths behind Elysian Field.
“I knew there was going to be some serious pace,” Casse said. “I thought Patrick did a great job with Ticker Tape Home.
“I said to anyone who asked me I thought Ticker Tape Home was the most talented but I didn’t know if she’d get a mile and an eighth. She had a great trip, that’s just a little beyond her, I believe, so we’ll refocus with her.”
Sivaci rode Cool Kiss to second in the 12-horse Plate Trial field. Twin City, with jockey Gary Boulanger, took third.
Elysian Field earned her second win in five starts this year and second victory in six career races. Shortly after Team Valor International and Gary Barber purchased Elysian Field in 2022, the horse required medical treatment for colic.
“We had her like two days before she went into the clinic for about a week,” Casse said. “It was a little touch and go and I think it took a toll.
“But we took her home and she got bigger and stronger. Both of these horses (Elysian Field, Paramount Prince) on a scale of 1-to-10 with 10 being good looking, they’re both a nine or 10.”
Husbands rode Paramount Prince to a first win of 2023 in three starts and second career victory in five races. Paramount Prince hasn’t finished out of the money (two wins, twice second, third) in his racing tenure.
“I think maybe we got to see what he wants to do and he wants to get into striding,” Casse said. “He’ll run all day.”