Mark Casse became the 34th trainer in Thoroughbred racing history to win 3,000 races when Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Watson scored a 1 3/4-length victory in the third race Nov. 19 at Gulfstream Park West.
The 59-year-old native of Indiana who was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame this year watched the milestone win on television from his Ocala, Fla., farm.
“It feels good. I watched it with my son, Colby, and we gave each other high-fives and celebrated,” Casse said. ‘I’m happy to be able to do it for Mrs. Weber,” referring to Charlotte Weber of Live Oak Plantation.
Nick Tomlinson, Casse’s South Florida-based assistant trainer, saddled Souper Watson ($17), who graduated under jockey Miguel Vasquez coming off a 6 1/2-month layoff in the 7 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race on turf.
Training “is something I’ve just wanted to do my entire life. Milestones mean a lot. This has made me think back over the years,” Casse said. “I went through a period of seven or eight years where I didn’t train many horses. We kicked back in, I want to say, 20 years ago. When we won 1,000, I said, ‘Well, that was nice.’ Then, when we won 2,000, I said, ‘I don’t think there will be 3000.’ I don’t know if there will be 4,000. We’ll see.”
Souper Watson, a homebred 3-year-old Ghostzapper gelding, entered Thursday’s race off a sixth-place finish at Gulfstream Park in an April 25 maiden special weight. He is now 1-for-6.
“I was just talking with my assistant, Nick Tomlinson. We weren’t shocked at all,” Casse said. “We honestly thought he was a pretty good horse early on. That last race came up a little tough. We sent him home and gave him a little break, and he came back blockbusters.”
The son of the late Norman Casse, a longtime horseman, Mark Casse took out his trainer’s license at age 17 in Massachusetts. He saddled his first winner, Joe’s Coming, in 1979 at Keeneland and his first graded stakes winner in 1984 when winning the Jamaica Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park with Raja’s Shark. A 12-time Sovereign Award winner inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame in 2016, Casse is ranked seventh in North America this year in wins (172) and sixth in purse earnings ($10.8 million).
Just a few of Casse’s many highlights include winning the 2019 Preakness Stakes (G1) with War of Will and the 2019 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) with Sir Winston. He also trained two-time champion Tepin, the winner of the Queen Anne Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot.
Other Eclipse Award winners trained by Casse include champion female sprinter Shamrock Rose in 2018 and champion juvenile Classic Empire in 2016. Those two horses were among his five Breeders’ Cup winners.
His 3,000th victory comes roughly four years after notching his 2,000th in May 2016.