In his first race on U.S. soil, Kasseopia made a valiant comeback to earn a third-place finish in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) on February 13th. Not only was that the first time the Team Valor International horse ran in the U.S., but it was also his first time racing as a three-year-old.
The April 2nd Spiral Stakes (gr. III) will mark the second occasion for both milestones for Kasseopia.
“I think he did everything he could have possibly done considering the start he got off to,” said trainer Graham Motion. “The frustrating part of it is that he actually had to run very hard to do what he did. What ended up as being a fairly inconsequential race because of the way he started—he had a pretty hard race that day.”
There was no bumping or stumbling for Kasseopia during the El Camino Real Derby; it was just that he was unfocused. “This horse is extremely laid back, very kind, very relaxed, and that’s what you want in a horse,” said Motion. “But it’s almost like he went to sleep and it surprised him when the gates opened.”
In order to prepare him for the Spiral Stakes and make him more focused, Motion has taken Kasseopia to the starting gate multiple times for extra schooling.
“He was pretty forward,” said Motion. “I wouldn’t say he breaks like a sprinter or anything like that, but I certainly expect him to break better on Saturday, and he needs to, otherwise it’s going to compromise him again.”
Motion and Team Valor are looking for their third Spiral Stakes victory as partners. They previously won this race in 2011 with Animal Kingdom and in 2012 with Went the Day Well.