Racing Spotlight: Sconsin, Jose Ortiz, and Mark Casse

June 18th, 2021

Racing Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights a horse, jockey, and trainer with insightful information to help our players be informed.

This week, we look at Sconsin, who vies for a second consecutive stake at a track she loves; Jose Ortiz, who leads the Belmont standings; and Mark Casse, who is the man to beat at Woodbine.

Horse spotlight: Sconsin

Sconsin looks to add another victory to her resume Saturday in Churchill’s Roxelana Overnight S.

The four-year-old filly has excelled on the Louisville oval. She won her last start, the Winning Colors S. (G3), by 3 1/4 lengths. Prior to this, she finished second to 2020 champion sprinter Gamine in the Derby City Distaff (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day.

"She loves Churchill. Every race she's run here, she's run a big race," trainer Greg Foley said in an interview after the Winning Colors. "And she ran awfully big last time. She made Gamine work for it.”

In the 2020 Run for the Roses undercard, Sconsin won the Eight Belles (G2) by 2 1/2 lengths and she followed that performance by finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1). The talented field included winner Gamine, second-place finisher and 2019 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Serengeti Empress, and Saturday rival Bell’s the One, who finished third. Bell’s the One also finished ahead of Sconsin in the Madison S. (G1) but behind her in the Derby City Distaff.

Sconsin is trained by Greg Foley. Last year, he saddled Major Fed, his first Kentucky Derby (G1) starter, and this year he entered fifth-place finisher O Besos.

Current Churchill Downs leading rider Tyler Gaffalione has the return mount on Sconsin.

Sconsin’s name is a blend of her dam and sire’s monikers: her mother is Sconnie, and her father is Include, a Grade 1 winner.

Jockey spotlight: Jose Ortiz

Jose Ortiz continues to put up big numbers at Belmont. Last weekend, he scored a riding triple on two consecutive cards. The weekend before that, in the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, he won two Grade 1s and one Grade 2.

Ortiz was scheduled to ride numerous mounts during the festival, but he picked up several more after his brother, Irad, was injured in an on-track accident. Irad was off for two weeks, and he recently made his return to riding. The Puerto Rican brothers are almost 14 months apart in age.

Jose currently sits at the top of Belmont’s jockey standings in both wins and purse earnings. He is in the top 10 in these categories among all North American jockeys, where his brother occupies the top of the leaderboards. The brothers have held those positions in recent seasons.

The Belmont meet will conclude July 11, and Jose will move his track to Saratoga, where he has won three riding titles.

This year, Jose has won at a 19% rate and finished in the money 51% of the time, and he's captured 11 graded stakes, bringing his career total to over 160. 

The 27-year-old began riding in America in 2012. He received the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey for 2017, reached the 2,000-win mark last summer at Belmont, and has amassed more than $176 million in purses throughout his career.

Trainer spotlight: Mark Casse

Mark Casse (Coady Photography)

Mark Casse is the trainer to beat at the Woodbine season that opened last weekend. He defends his 2020 title, his 11th overall, a season when his wins and purse earnings were more than double those of all other trainers at the track.

He has received Canada’s Sovereign Award for Outstanding Trainer a record 12 times. His dominance led to his induction in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2016, and last year, he added the American Hall of Fame to his resume.

Casse was born in Indianapolis, but moved with his family to Ocala, Florida, when he was five years old. His father was one of the founders of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company.

Casse logged his first win with his first starter, Joe’s Coming, at Keeneland in April 1979. Since then, he's won at a 16% rate and finished in the trifecta 44% of the time. In addition to his Woodbine titles, Casse has been leading trainer at Turfway four times, Keeneland three times, and Churchill Downs twice. He has won five Breeders’ Cup races.

In 2019, Casse won two-thirds of the Triple Crown, with War of Will taking the Preakness (G1) and Sir Winston capturing the Belmont (G1). This year, he saddled Helium and fan-favorite Soup and Sandwich in the Kentucky Derby. The 60-year-old’s other top horses include champions Tepin and Classic Empire. He was born on Valentine’s Day.