Saratoga Special winner makes for a Hopeful situation

Aug 20, 2023 at 09:45 pm by Danny Brewer

photo by NYRA

  When speaking of young athletes, “special” and “hopeful” can be two commonly used terms. Or at least those are two words that an athlete wants to be used as adjectives when being discussed. There is one particular two-year-old male Thoroughbred that has garnered one and is making plans for the other.

  Rhyme Schemes is certainly one of the most promising two-year-old colts on this side of the Mississippi River. The word “special” has come to mind when eyes are cast on this son of Ghostzapper. On August 12, this Norm Casse trainee made sure the moniker would stick as he flat put on a show in winning the Grade 2 Saratoga Special at 6 ½ furlongs by a widening 9 ½ lengths.

  “Anytime you can take a horse to Saratoga and win it’s a big deal”, says Casse. “But winning the Saratoga Special with that type of performance is really something special.”

  Coming into this stepping stone for a run at Kentucky Derby 150, Casse had a pretty good idea his horse was sitting on a big race. After adding blinkers as an equipment change, Rhyme Schemes broke his maiden at Ellis Park on June 15. In that race, a confident Schemes took’em gate to wire and blazed home a good 9 ½ lengths better than nine others.

  “He has always touted himself as having the tools to be a really good horse”, says Casse, who grew up in the Thoroughbred racing game as an assistant to his father Mark Casse. “He was very spotty in his first start so we added the blinkers to help him focus and that second start at Ellis told us what we thought we already knew. At Saratoga he showed another dimension as he won without being on the lead right out of the gate.”

  The “special” adjective is secured but where does “hopeful” come into play? The next rung up the ladder for this talent will likely be the grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, also run at Saratoga. Contested at 7 furlongs, this race began back in 1904 and has long produced winners that went on to three-year-old glory.

  “The Hopeful has been on our radar since we took him to the race track”, says Casse. “We have taken things pretty easy with him with eyes on running him twice at this meet. Our stable has been going through some pretty exciting times of late and we see him as a horse that can really help us grow things. Right now it’s just one day at a time, but we are thankful Hopeful is in our vocabulary.”

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