● Neepawa was winless in four starts as a two-year-old, but showed promise finishing second in his season finale in the Coronation Futurity behind Queen's Plate contender Aheadbyacentury on the Tapeta at Woodbine. One of three starters for Hall of Fame conditioner Mark Casse, the colt, like fine wine, has gotten better with age.
● "He's by Scat Daddy," stared Casse. "He's a horse that we've always kind of felt like would get better. Most of the Chiefswood horses are bred to run on and get better as they get older and we've kind of felt that would be the case with him and he has. He's really, especially in the last couple months, started training better and getting bigger and stronger. I know a mile and a quarter will not be an issue for him."
● The Chiefswood Stable homebred wintered in Florida, where he kicked off his sophomore season with a maiden-breaking victory in late January over Gulfstream Park's turf course followed by a pair of fifth-place finishes in stakes action. Back at Woodbine on the synthetic track Neepawa hit the board behind Queen's Plate contender Cooler Mike and next-out winner March to the Arch from the Casse stable.
● Which effort was the most pleasing? "Probably when he broke his maiden," offered Casse. "He's impressed me a few times. He's been extremely unlucky on more than one occasion. You know with turf racing especially, down at Gulfstream, it's tighter racing and you have to have the perfect trip and he got unlucky a couple times. He broke his maiden impressively, but honestly I just have always felt like we never got to see the best of him yet and I'm hoping that occurs Saturday."
Owner – Chiefswood Stable
(See Rose's Vision)
Trainer – Mark Casse
Mark Casse, 57, had another stellar year in 2017, highlighted by World Approval's victories in the Grade 1 Fourstardave, Ricoh Woodbine Mile and Breeders' Cup Mile en route to an Eclipse Award as Champion Turf Male. The Indiana native was also honoured with a seventh straight and record 10th overall Sovereign Award as Outstanding Trainer.
Casse's numerous champions include Tepin, heroine of the Woodbine Mile and Breeders' Cup Mile in 2016 and back-to-back Eclipse Award winner as Champion Turf Female; Classic Empire, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile during an Eclipse Award-winning campaign in 2016; and four Canadian Horses of the Year in Catch A Glimpse (2015), 2014 Queen's Plate winner Lexie Lou, Uncaptured (2012) and Sealy Hill (2007). Casse was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2016.
Jockey – Florent Geroux
Florent Geroux was born in France in 1986 and is the son of the late Dominique Geroux, who rode with success in France during the 70s and 80s before hanging up his tack to become a trainer. Although he spent time at the track as a youth, it wasn't until he was a teenager that he decided he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. He applied to the French riding academy, Afasec, and he was accepted at the age of 13 and attended the school for several years. He began riding in France and was a leading apprentice.
Recommended to French-born but American-based trainer Patrick Biancone, Geroux made his first foray to the United States in early 2007, exercising horses and riding the occasional race for Biancone.
Geroux enjoyed a career year in 2016, cracking the top five standings in North America with his mounts earning in excess of $17.6 million. He has partnered with 2017 U.S. Horse of the Year Gun Runner for some recent career highlights including Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup victories.