Third in the past two runnings of the Fourstardave H. (G1), Casa Creed improved to topple 1-2 favorite Regal Glory in Saturday’s $485,000 renewal at Saratoga. The Bill Mott trainee booked his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), posing the question of whether he’ll try that race for the third straight year as well.
Casa Creed has been unplaced in both prior attempts at the Mile, while his back-to-back scores in the Jaipur (G1) solidified his profile as a turf sprinter. That poses a Breeders’ Cup conundrum for his team. Since the Jaipur is a “Win and You’re In” for the Turf Sprint (G1), Casa Creed has now picked up free spots to two Breeders’ Cup events.
“We’ll talk about that,” Mott said immediately following the Fourstardave. “We’re already hashing that over, but we’ll see. I think six to seven (furlongs) is probably his best – he’s somewhere in between. But he was drawing away going a mile today. I guess it depends on the trip and how he’s doing on the day.”
The race shape is arguably the key factor for his fortunes at a mile. In contrast to the 2020-2021 editions of the Fourstardave, as well as his Breeders’ Cup losses, Saturday’s pace was more moderate. When the race turned into a dash for home, that played to Casa Creed’s strengths, more so than to Regal Glory who stays further than a mile.
Get Smokin loomed as the controlling speed, and obliged by carving out splits of :24.01, :47.94, and 1:11.24 on the firm inner turf. Masen, Regal Glory’s stablemate from the Chad Brown barn, chased in second, and the favorite crept into third on the backstretch. Casa Creed, under a patient Luis Saez, was happy to trail in the five-horse field.
Regal Glory was asked turning for home, but the mare was making hard work of trying to overtake Masen, and Get Smokin was still clinging to the lead. Then Casa Creed erupted on the outside to sweep past them all, bounding 1 1/2 lengths clear in 1:34.20 and returning $10.40 as a 4.20-1 shot.
“It was a pretty good trip,” Saez recapped. “That was the plan. We tried to break and settle down right there and have one move with him. He did it pretty great. He made a big move at the top of the stretch and came away with a victory.”
A resolute Regal Glory finally wore down Masen by a half-length, with Get Smokin another three-quarters of a length adrift in fourth. Front Run the Fed was unable to keep pace when the serious running started.
Brown saw no obvious excuse for his placegetters.
“She (Regal Glory) just looked like she was second-best today,” the trainer said. “It was a bit of a wide trip but, you know, that’s what it is, that’s the way she likes to run clear though. Today, she just didn’t have what it took to win. She ran really well in defeat. She did run second.”
“Not really sure yet,” Brown added regarding Masen. “We’ll just have to re-evaluate afterwards. I was disappointed he didn’t kick on a little better. He ran credibly but I just thought he would have a little more punch in the lane.”
LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable’s Casa Creed was reviving memories of his course-and-distance victory in the 2019 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2). That sophomore season also featured a win in the Kitten’s Joy S. at Gulfstream Park along with graded placings in the Penn Mile (G2) and Palm Beach (G3). His 2020 campaign was forgettable aside from his Fourstardave placing. It took a cutback in trip to regain the winner’s circle in the 2021 Elusive Quality S., the prelude to his first Jaipur trophy.
Shortening up still further for last November’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, going five furlongs at Del Mar, didn’t figure to suit. Thus he tried the Mile again and fared better in eighth, compared to his 12th in 2020.
Casa Creed raced exclusively in sprints in 2022 before stretching back out on Saturday. The son of Jimmy Creed established his international credentials with a terrific second in the 1351 Turf Sprint (G3) on Saudi Cup Day, just missing to Japan’s Songline (herself a Breeders’ Cup Mile hopeful). He extended his Mideast venture on Dubai World Cup Day, finishing a creditable fifth in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) down the Meydan straightaway. Casa Creed resumed stateside by repeating in the Jaipur, and continued his momentum at the Spa to advance his record to 27-7-4-4, $1,703,308.
“He’s in great form and won two Grade 1s since coming back (from Dubai), so scrap that theory that they can’t travel and do good,” Mott noted. “We’ve always felt he was capable of going a mile and I think it’s a matter of getting his run timed properly and having the right trip, and he did it today. He’s run good races at a mile before and got very good speed figures, and today he got his picture taken.
“I always wait and let the horse do the talking,” the Hall of Famer added. “You can be excited and feel good about him, but they’ve got to run the race. We kind of thought he’d be a little (closer), but he looked like he was where he wanted to be. (Saez) let him break and the horse found his own spot. I don’t think he put him there, I think that’s the rhythm the horse wanted to be in and he gradually picked up the back as he went down the backside and got within striking range by the time he hit the half-mile pole. He waited very patiently – he didn’t tip him out way wide. He waited until he got around the turn and then tipped him out so he didn’t lose all the ground.”
Mott was asked if he thought that the Fourstardave was Casa Creed’s best race.
“I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s run two pretty good Jaipurs and incredible races, but he’s put several races back-to-back,” the horseman said. “He’s put four races back-to-back this year. He’s traveled and come back and still run well.”
Hence the Breeders’ Cup question. With this year’s Turf Sprint being a 5 1/2-furlong dash at Keeneland, it could enter the equation more than the 2021 scramble at Del Mar. Then again, since the six-year-old is in the form of his life, perhaps he can go closer in the Mile this time.
Bred by Silver Springs Stud in Kentucky, the $105,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase is a half-brother to Chess’s Dream, who also won the Kitten’s Joy (as a Grade 3). Their dam, the Bellamy Road mare Achalaya, hails from the family of Grade 1 turfer Man from Wicklow.