(Dream Maker winning at the Fair Grounds earlier this meet / Photo by Hodges Photography & Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)

By Ryan Martin, Fair Grounds Media Team:


Trainer Mark Casse’s barn on the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots backstretch has done a fabulous job in displaying promising 3-year-old talent in New Orleans this winter and impressive Fair Grounds allowance winner Dream Maker took another step closer toward his expected start in the Grade II $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9 with a half-mile work on Saturday morning.

Under the supervision of David Carroll, who oversees Casse’s Fair Grounds division, John Oxley’s homebred son of Tapit covered the four-furlong distance in a swift 47.80, which was the fastest of 111 recorded works at the distance. Jockey Florent Geroux was aboard for the breeze.

“He worked beautifully this morning,” Carroll said. “It was just very smooth and very professional. The track was a bit quick this morning. He did it in hand and his gallop out was beautiful. He came back, cooled out great. We’re very happy with him.”

Dream Maker won his sophomore debut in impressive fashion when taking a first level allowance event over the Fair Grounds main track by 8½ lengths on February 9. He won his career debut last June at Churchill Downs before two unplaced efforts against Grade I company in the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga on September 3 and the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity on October 6.

“He hasn’t regressed from his race at all,” Carroll said. “He’s just been very professional with what he’s doing. Florent was very impressed with him. Right now it’s just a matter of keeping him happy. He’s plenty fit enough. We have a great crew and everyone takes pride in their job. We’re having a good meet and everyone’s in a good mood. All the horses are doing well.”

Dream Maker is a full brother to Grade I turf winner Dream Dancing. Both horses are out of the unraced Monarchos broodmare To Dream About whose dam Beautiful Pleasure was a multiple Grade I winner and was Champion Older Mare in 1999.

The Casse barn is riding high with Derby hopes and dreams with not only Dream Maker but War of Will, who is atop the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 60 points which were acquired when taking the Grade III Lecomte and Grade II Risen Star Stakes.

“It’s an absolute privilege to be around horses like that,” Carroll said. “We have great owners and it’s our responsibility to take care of them and put them in the right spot to do their best.”

Other notable works on Saturday morning include Godolphin’s graded stakes winner Elsa who worked a half-mile in 48.20 for trainer Michael Stidham. Also breezing a half-mile in 48.20 is Joey Keith Davis’ Nelson J. Menard Overnight Stakes winner Excessivespending, who is trained by Chris Hartman. Carl R. Moore Management’s two-time Louisiana-bred stakes winner Midnight Fantasy went a half-mile in :49 for trainer Joe Sharp.


Following a return to the winner’s circle on Friday afternoon, Ivery Sisters Racing’s Monte Man will seek another victory in the $60,000 Costa Rising Stakes over the Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson Turf Course.

Trained by Ron Faucheux, the 6-year-old Louisiana-bred son of Custom for Carlos won last year’s edition of the 5½-furlong event, which was a part of a seven-race win streak that included four other Louisiana-bred stakes races. He entered Saturday’s race off of a second-place effort in the Louisiana Premier Night Premier Night Sprint Stakes at Delta Downs on February 9.

“He tries so hard and he’s so consistent for us,” Faucheux said. “I don’t think (jockey) Adam (Beschizza) could not have ridden him any better. He can do a couple different things but for him to have something to eye and run down is what he really wants to do. We got a little speed. At Delta he ran five-eighths and ran a game second but kind of wasn’t really able to run his race. Adam really put him in the right spot and got him to the outside. We’ve been unfortunate getting those inside draws with him. We were happy the way it set up the way it did.”

Faucheux claimed Monte Man in October 2017 and since then has made 10 starts for his current trainer, eight of which were victories and five of which took place at stakes level.