Ocala Horse Racing Shines in the Headlines!

Mark Casse has been in the horse racing business for a long time, and his determined efforts, and exceptional resume, finally paid off in a remarkable win with War of Will in the 2019 Preakness. Casse, who has lived in Ocala for most of his life, is hitting his stride this race season with several winning Ocala trained thoroughbreds in his program.

War of Will – trained by Casse, owned by Gary Barber and piloted by Tyler Gaffalione (Davie Florida), earned their first win in the Preakness leg of the Triple Ground for all of these connections. The colt was born in Kentucky, shipped to France for the sales, ultimately returning to Ocala to go into training with Casse. War of Will is also the horse famously tripped up in the controversy surrounding the historic disqualification of Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby. Casse didn’t let that slow them down, keeping his eye on the prize going into the Preakness. After the Preakness win, War of Will now has won $1,491,569 off a 4-1-1 record in 10 starts.

Trainer Mark Casse with War of Will and Jockey Tyler Gaffalione after Preakness Win.  PC: Eric Kalet for Paulick Report

Trainer Mark Casse with War of Will and Jockey Tyler Gaffalione after Preakness Win. PC: Eric Kalet for Paulick Report

In a recent interview with the Paulick Report, Casse has projected that the colt will continue onto the final leg of the Triple Crown at the Belmont on June 8th. “I would say there’s an extremely good shot he’ll be there,” Casse said of the 1 ½-mile third leg of the Triple Crown. 

“Now it’s just a matter of him saying he doesn’t want to go, that would be if he was lethargic or something in training. There are only three Triple Crown races; they’re pretty important. I think if you can do it, you should do it,” he added. “The Belmont is the Belmont. It’s the third leg of the Triple Crown. Who doesn’t want to win it?” (Source: The Paulick Report)

Racing Careers Flourish in Ocala and Beyond

Casse Racing is based on 66th Street in Ocala, but the world of racing takes this trainer and his string of horses throughout the US, Canada and abroad for all the top race meets. Casse has garnered numerous awards including being named multiple times as Leading Trainer at Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Woodbine as well as being inducted into the Canadian Horse Hall of Fame and the North American Hall of Fame.

Casse saddled his first winner in 1978 in Florida, and over the decades horses under Casse’s watchful eye have earned their way into the Millionaires Club include such names as World Approval, Tepin, Classic Empire, Noble Bird and now War of Will.  Casse’s roots run deep in Ocala with his father Norman being one of the founders of Ocala Breeder Sales, and his son Justin making his name as a bloodstock agent.

Souper Tapit (left) Winning at Woodbine. PC: Michael Burns for Paulick Report

Souper Tapit (left) Winning at Woodbine. PC: Michael Burns for Paulick Report

Hot off his Preakness win, Casse parlayed his streak into another recent victory at the Woodbine Eclipse Stakes (Toronto, Canada) on May 20th; this time winning with another Ocala connection – Live Oak Plantation’s homebred, Souper Tapit! “The five-year-old chestnut son of Tapit out of Zo Impressive, who won his only other Woodbine start in the 2017 Grade 3 Marine over the same course and distance, has earned five victories lifetime and more than $420,000 in purses under Casse’s tutelage. The Preakness Stakes-winning trainer also celebrated stakes wins this weekend in Woodbine’s Grade 3 Selene on Saturday and the Queenston on Sunday. A 10-time Trainer of the Year in Canada, Casse currently has 17 wins to top the leaderboard at the 2019 meet, which began on April 20.” (Source: Paulick Report)

Live Oak Plantation (home of Live Oak International) is owned by Chester Weber’s family, whose matriarch, Charlotte Weber, has dedicated her life to the thoroughbred racehorse industry and preserving open space in our region. In addition to Live Oak Plantation’s success with Souper Tapit, they also saddled another homebred, Win Win Win, in the first two legs of the 2019 Triple Crown.

Ocala Horse Properties is proud of our region’s representation in the field of thoroughbred horse racing. The Casse’s and the Weber’s success in the industry is not an anomaly for the training programs based out of Ocala. The Triple Crown signals the beginning of racing season throughout the US and internationally, so keep an eye on the headlines, as OHP predicts their will be several other Ocala winners making the news!