Mark Casse

Head Trainer

As a 12-year-old boy, Mark Casse immersed himself in the world of thoroughbred racing and breeding. It was a natural move for the Indianapolis-born son of Norman Casse, who had a successful breeding business in Indiana before moving to one of the horse capitals on the continent - Ocala, Florida. A trip in a horse van with his father to see the mighty Secretariat win the Kentucky Derby in track record time that really hooked Mark. “I didn’t realize it at the time that it would be my favorite Derby," Mark said in an interview. "We rode in the horse van from Ocala. I could hardly see because our seats weren't very good, but it was great being there with my dad. He has always been my idol.”

In just six years, Mark went from mucking stalls in the sub-zero temperatures of an Indiana winter to running his father’s Cardinal Hill Farm in Ocala. Then, at the age of 18, Mark officially became a trainer. Mark won his first race as a trainer in 1979 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky and set sail on a wildly successful career not only as a conditioner but a bloodstock specialist and racing and farm manager. Mark led all trainers at the 1988 Churchill Downs spring meeting, setting a record for number of winners of 29. He also led all trainers at Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky four times.

Mark took on the position as private trainer and general manager of operations for Harry Mangurian’s enormous Mockingbird Farm, home to upwards of 900 horses of all ages. For Mr. Mangurian, Mark raced horses throughout North America, including Woodbine racetrack in Toronto, Canada. The team’s 1999 Canadian champion 2-year-old colt, Exciting Story, won the 2001 Metropolitan Handicap, the biggest and most prestigious win for Mr. Mangurian and Mark up to that point. Mark also brought End Sweep to Mockingbird. A $250,000 purchase who went on to win numerous stakes races, End Sweep entered stud at Mockingbird Farm and led all first-crop sires before being sold for a reported $20 million. With Mockingbird, Mark excelled at preparing young horses for sales and the races and selling them for profit. It was a vastly successful venture until Mr. Mangurian dispersed much of his bloodstock in 1999 and 2000.

After three years as manager of Sez Who Racing, Mark opened up his own training complex, Moonshadow Farm in Ocala, with his wife Tina. He built up an impressive client base that included the blue-blooded horses of Eugene Melnyk (who purchased the Mockingbird property and re-named in Winding Oaks) Bob Wilson and Charles LaLoggia. In 2005, one of Mark’s clients, Bill Farish, put together a racing syndicate, Woodford Racing LLC and sent Mark with his keen eye for horsepower to buy yearlings for the group. Mark welcomed the opportunity to buy horses and train them to race. Indeed, he had just experienced one of his biggest thrills as a trainer when he sent Seaside Retreat to the Kentucky Derby that year. “I was labeled as a good two-year-old trainer but not someone who could develop a horse,” said Casse. “Bill said I could go out and buy the horses, train them for races like the Queen’s Plate and not have to worry about selling them. I had always dreamed about doing that.” From the first batch of yearlings came stakes winners Legal Move, Sprung and Silky Smooth, to name a few. There are already winners to come out of the second group of Woodford yearling purchases that are now 2-year-olds of 2007.

In 2006, Mark was awarded his first Sovereign Award for Canada’s champion trainer and conditioned champion 3-year-old filly Kimchi. In 2007, Eugene Melnyk’s Sealy Hill became Mark’s second consecutive Woodbine Oaks winner. The filly also took the Wonder Where Stakes and, in the spring, the Grade 3 Bourbonette Stakes. Mark also had Eugene Melnyk’s Marchfield in tip top shape to win the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the third jewel in Canada’s Triple Crown.On Sept. 9, Casse-trained 2-year-old fillies Clearly Foxy, Nite in Rome and Lickety Lemon finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine. Mark divides his time during the year between Toronto and Ocala. He is married to Tina and is the father of seven children. “I have been very fortunate since I started out with just two or three horses,” said Mark. “I am quite proud that I have people working for me who have been with me for a very long time. My team is very loyal, they know me and what I want done. That’s what makes us so strong.”

Written by Jennifer Morrison

Tina Casse

Director of Operations, Casse Racing

When Tina Casse met her husband Mark, she was a professional in one of the two biggest industries in Ocala, Florida. Well known for its thoroughbred breeding industry and immaculate farms and training centers, Ocala is also the home of the world’s most acclaimed cardiac centers  - the Monroe Regional Medical Center.

Tina, a registered nurse, moved there about 12 years ago from her home town of Crystal River, Florida, when she sought the big leagues in cardiac care. “I worked at the coronary intensive unit in Crystal River but I wanted to see what it was like in Ocala, which is renowned for its cardiac care. It was at the Monroe Center that Tina met Harry Mangurian, one of Ocala’s most successful racehorse breeders. That’s how I met Mark, he was visiting him,” said Tina. Within a few years, Tina and Mark were married. “I knew nothing at the time about horses,” said Tina. “It was new and very exciting. Mr. Mangurian was starting to liquidate his horse population and Mark was starting out on his own. But, I know a lot more now. In fact, besides my son and family, horses have become the main focus in my life.”

In 2002, Mark and Tina started Casse Racing. While Mark worked to build his string of horses and develop an new client base, Tina managed operations for the growing company. Today, Tina handles all the financial responsibility for both the Canadian and American companies. Dealing with operations for Casse Racing across two countries, with horses racing in three locations, and over 50 employees is more than a full time job. Besides making sure everything runs seamlessly for Mark, the owners and employees, Tina is devoted to raising her and Mark's 8 year old son Colby.

Tina said Exciting Story was her favorite horse – the Mangurian colt who won the Met Mile and was Canada’s champion 2-year-old. “The obstacles that he overcame were significant,” said Tina. “He was never even supposed to live and Mark gave him a chance." Tina also owns several horses in Casse Racing, and in November 2008 notched her first stakes victory when Retraceable won the Princess Elizabeth at Woodbine.

Written by Jennifer Morrison

Norman Casse

Assistant Trainer, Casse Racing LLC

With bloodlines like his, Norman Casse figured to be a slam-dunk to love the racing industry from the moment he was born. Both of his grandfathers, including Norman Sr. of Cardinal Hill Farm in Ocala, Florida, were trainers and accomplished horsemen. His father, Mark, is one of the most successful bloodstock agents-turned trainer in North America and a champion trainer in Canada. As a child, Norman was surrounded by everything equine. “I remember I had one of those rocking horses on the springs,” said Norman. “He used to be done up in polo bandages and all that stuff.”

After graduating from Bellarmine University in Louisville with a business degree, Norman was at a crossroads on what career move to make... until Derby fever struck. In 2005, Norman accompanied his Dad on their first trip to the Kentucky Derby with Mark’s first Derby starter – Seaside Retreat. “The way I felt when I went to the Derby with my Dad, that was it for me, I knew I wanted to try a career in training.”

Norman learned the ropes under Mark's careful eye and with the help of Mark's other assistant trainers Ricky Griffith and David Adams, took out an Assistant Trainers license in 2006. Since then Norman has been responsible for racing Casse Racing horses in the US. He has managed strings at Fairgrounds, Churchill Downs, Saratoga and Keeneland. “I want to keep learning something new every day,” said Norman. “I will just try to keep getting better as I go along. The best part of my job is learning from my dad."

Written by Jennifer Morrison

Kathryn Sullivan

Assistant Trainer, Casse Racing LLC

Kathryn Sullivan was born in London, Ontario, where she started riding at the age of 8. She rode show horses when she was younger and worked at the track on summer holidays from university. Following her graduation, Kathryn went to Europe for the summer before she was to start graduate school. Fortunately for us, she got a bit side-tracked!

After 12 years living and working around the world, Kathryn returned to Toronto and began work at a downtown office. She would spend her weekends at the track, where she would hot walk horses. It didn't take long for her to realize that she belonged there and not in the corporate world! She started working for Woodbine Racetrack shortly thereafter, which she credits as being a great education in how the business of racing works.

Kathryn joined Casse Racing in 2008 and feels extremely fortunate to be a part of the team. She says that "it's a thrill to be involved with such an incredible stable or horses, and to be competing in the big races" as part of Team Casse and Conquest.

David Adams

Assistant Trainer, Casse Racing LLC

David Adams was enamored with racehorses in his home country of Barbados. Many of his family members rode or owned horses at nearby Garrison Savannah. From the age of four, David worked around racehorses as a hot-walker and then as a groom. In 1998, he headed north to Canada and Woodbine racetrack. “I wanted to work with horses at a big circuit track,” said David, whose first job came with trainer Ross Armata. David worked for several others stables before joining Casse Racing.

It is easy for David to pick out his favorite horse: Exciting Story.  David groomed Harry Mangurian’s rugged chestnut colt. who was not only voted Canada’s champion 2-year-old in 1999, but in 2001 won the prestigious Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park as a 50 to 1 long shot.

These days, David plays an important role with Casse Racing as an assistant trainer in charge of schooling horses in the paddock, medications, training charts and setting up tack for the runners in the afternoon. Now living in Brampton, Ontario, David loves his job as Mark’s assistant and said working with the horses is his life. “Getting to know all the horses is the best part about it,” said David. “And Mark is the best guy I have ever worked for."

Written by Jennifer Morrison

Dr. Robert McMartin

Head Veterinarian

Dr. Robert McMartin, or "Dr. Bob" as he is known to Team Conquest, is another skilled Canadian in our arsenal.

A graduate of the University of Guelph's Veterinary Medicine program, he is a member of various prestigious professional organizations, including the Jockey Club of Canada, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

After starting his own practice in 1969, Dr. Bob has since gone on to consult for a number of major racing stables. He is an incredibly skilled veterinarian, and has worked on some of the most famous horses in the world, including but certainly not limited to: Sunny's Halo, Deputy Minister, Smart Strike, Speightstown, Dance Smartly, Izvestia, and With Approval. While he only started working with Casse Racing and Conquest Stables in 2013, he has already proved instrumental to our success!

When he's not taking care of our horses, Dr. Bob enjoys piloting planes and open water diving.