CANADA RACING: Trainer Mark Casse among 7 elected to US Racing Hall of Fame

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Mark Casse

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — Trainer Mark Casse has more than $174 million in purse earnings, has captured two legs of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, and has been honored as Canadian trainer of the year a record 11 times.

And now, election to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s very emotional for me,” Casse said via telephone Wednesday from his farm in Ocala, Florida. “It just brings back a lot of memories, especially of my dad. I used to go to it with him all the time when I was like 10, 11, 12. I told him, ‘Someday, dad, I’m going to be in it.’ It’s just something that if you had told me in my training career to list five goals, it would have been one of them.”

Also part of the class of 2020 announced Wednesday were:

—Eclipse Award-winning jockey Darrel McHargue, who won 2,553 races, including 79 graded stakes, and had purse earnings of $39,609,526 from 1972-88.

—Wise Dan, a chestnut gelding who compiled a record of 23-2-0 with 11 Grade 1 wins from 31 starts and earnings of $7,552,920 while competing from 2010-14, also earning Horse of the Year honours in 2012-13 and Champion Older Male and Champion Male Turf Horse in both of those years

—Racehorse Tom Bowling, who was foaled in 1870, lost his first two starts as a juvenile, then won 14 of his next 15 races.

—The late George D. Widener, Jr., who bred 102 stakes winners.

—J. Keene Daingerfield, Jr., a trainer who went on to become one of the most respected stewards in the sport.

—And 94-year-old owner Alice Headley Chandler, whose Mill Ridge Farm, founded in 1962 in Lexington, Kentucky, has raised or sold 34 Grade 1 winners, including six in the Breeders’ Cup series.

The 59-year-old Casse, a native of Indianapolis, obtained his trainer’s license in Massachusetts at age 17 and saddled his first winner at Keeneland with Joe’s Coming, his first starter, in April 1979. He has since trained Eclipse Award winners Classic Empire, Shamrock Rose, Tepin, and World Approval, as well as Canadian Horse of the Year honorees Catch a Glimpse, Lexie Lou, Sealy Hill, Uncaptured, and Wonder Gadot.

He’s also won seven races in the Canadian Triple Crown series, five Breeders’ Cup races, and last year won two-thirds of the American Triple Crown, with War of Will taking the Preakness and Sir Winston capturing the Belmont.

Overall, Casse has trained 18 horses that have won $1 million or more, and has been the leading trainer at Woodbine 11 times, Turfway four times, Keeneland three times, and Churchill Downs twice. He was inducted into the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame four years ago.

The induction ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Aug. 7 at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs. The museum is monitoring state and health regulations in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and will act in accordance with those policies and best practices. A decision on the status of the ceremony will be made at a later date.