Sir Winston leaves Casse guessing

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Trainer Mark Casse has no explanation for the up-and-down nature of Sir Winston’s performances at this stage.

The Awesome Again colt is a Grade 1 winner but he doesn’t always bring his A-game to the racetrack and his trainer is struggling to find a reason.

It was underwhelming stuff to say the very least in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park over the weekend.

Sent off 7-2 third choice in the betting behind Tactic (9-5) and Mr Buff (2-1); Sir Winston raced in the rear and never threatened to land any sort of blow as he finished last of six runners.

Rider Joel Rosario felt there was nothing amiss in the early exchanges but his mount was unable to challenge and, his trainer suggests, showed ‘no interest’ in going after his rivals.

One thing Casse remains convinced about is that Sir Winston had no physical ailments going into the contest.

“Sir Winston’s done that to us a couple times,” Casse said. “I don’t know, he just never engaged. He was the most baffling of all the horses.

“I don’t know what to think of him. He’s sound, he’s happy. Joel [Rosario] said he was moving well, he just had no interest in going after anybody.”

Casse is happy to aim for the Alydar at Saratoga next month as his next target, pinning his hopes on a change of scenery bringing about a change in attitude.

Sir Winston’s standout career moment to date came in the 2019 Belmont Stakes when he held off Tacitus and Joevia to win the Triple Crown contest and bank connections $800,000 in prize money.

Casse had previously stated his long-term goal for this season was to get to the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in November, though that target seems a long way in the distance following the four-year-old’s latest no-show.

Back in March, Sir Winston made the journey to Dubai where he was expected to be amongst the market leaders for the Group 1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan. That was to prove a wasted mission, however, as the meeting was abandoned due to the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing him to head back to the United States via quarantine.

Upon his return from Dubai, Casse made no secret of the regard in which he holds the colt as he stated: “I think he can compete with the better older horses running a mile and an eighth or farther.”

With his trainer now forced to reassess and left wondering where to go next with the ‘most baffling of all the horses’, it remains to be seen if that potential can be realised during the second half of 2020. Find the major events of the year in our horse racing calendar.