Mark Casse is one of the most successful handlers in North America. He has trained some very talented horses; CLASSIC EMPIRE, SIR WINSTON, TEPIN, and WAR OF WILL just to name a few.
Casse is well known and respected throughout the industry, so just like (dated reference alert) EF Hutton, when Mark Casse talks people should listen.
“Horses were not bred to run on the dirt,” said the trainer recently. “They were bred to run on the grass, and Tapeta is as close to grass as you can get.”
What is Tapeta you ask? It is a Thoroughbred racing and training surface comprised of carefully selected mixture of the finest silica sand, and fibers that have been extensively researched and simulate the root structure of of turf.
This week, Gulfstream Park in South Florida became the first facility in North America to have three unique racing surfaces: dirt, turf and the Tapeta Footings synthetic track.
Casse, who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame this year, after a 2016 induction in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, feels that other tracks could follow suit; “I think New York may be flirting with synthetic tracks somewhere down the line,” he said. “And I think it would be great and I think it would pay for itself in no time.”
And what say Mark Casse about the anecdotal contention by some horsemen that, while synthetics may result in fewer fractures or fatal injuries, more soft-tissue problems develop on a synthetic track?
“That is the biggest bunch of hogwash that I’ve ever heard,” said Casse. “That’s the most ridiculous statement. I can tell you we have far more soft tissue injuries on dirt than we ever do on synthetics. That’s somebody saying things and they don’t know what they’re talking about. Whenever I hear that I just laugh.”
While the rest of the thoroughbred world will wait to see how things play out at Gulfstream in regard to this new surface, it’s safe to say Mark Casse is on board with it.