Mark Casse enjoyed a career-defining moment with a high-five from his son after training the 3,000th winner of his Hall of Fame career.
Casse became the 34th trainer in thoroughbred racing history to hit the landmark when Souper Watson scored a one-and-three-quarter-length victory at Gulfstream Park West on Thursday.
Casse was in front of a television set with his son at home in Ocala, the landmark win coming in the same year as he was inducted to the National Museum of Racing and the Hall of Fame.
A native of Indiana, Casse admits it was special to enjoy the moment with family and for the owners.
“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.
Souper Watson, a homebred three-year-old, was on the board at the sixth time of asking and it wasn’t a shock to his connections.
“We weren’t shocked at all,” Casse added. “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.”
Son of the late Norman, Casse admits that training horses is what he “wanted to do my entire life”. He didn’t have to wait long, taking out his license before he turned 18.
He saddled his first winner, Joe’s Coming, in 1979 at Keeneland and enjoyed a breakthrough at graded stakes level five years later at Belmont Park with Raja’s Shark.
2019 Preakness Stakes winner War of Will and the 2019 Belmont Stakes scored Sir Winston rate amongst the modern-day highlights, while Casse also saddled Tepin to win the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2016.
That Royal Ascot win came a month after his 2,000th career winner and now, four years on, he’s struck another landmark in a fairytale career. There are no plans to slow down, says the popular 59-year-old.
“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.”