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Easy Goer Preview: Undefeated Casino Grande Takes Next Step
Credit: Coglianese Photos / Ryan Thompson

Easy Goer Preview: Undefeated Casino Grande Takes Next Step

ELMONT, NY – Calumet Farm homebred Casino Grande will put his undefeated resume on the line when he takes on five other sophomore males in Thursday’s $80,000 Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont Park.

The Easy Goer is the eighth on a nine-race card and is a 1 1/16-mile dirt event with a one-turn configuration over the surface known as “Big Sandy.”

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Casino Grande was relatively late to the races, waiting to debut until March 14 when the Cairo Prince colt wired the field while covering 7 furlongs on the Tampa Bay Downs main track. He returned on May 16 to defeat an optional claiming rivals while going a one-turn mile over the Gulfstream Park dirt and will retain the services of that day’s rider (and the nation’s leader in wins and earnings), Irad Ortiz, Jr.

That May 16 field included three other last-out winners and two previously under Kentucky Derby Future Wager consideration. Trainer Christophe Clement eschewed pushing him too fast, too soon, and opted to skip last weekend’s Belmont Stakes (G1) in favor of this easier spot.

“He’s versatile when he’s training in the morning, and he shows it in the afternoon as well,” Clement said. “When you look at him he’s an average-sized kind of a horse. His strongest attribute is that he’s very athletic, and he’s a very good mover.”

Here is a look at the full field for Thursday’s Easy Goer:

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1. Celtic Striker (8/1) – He drops to the ungraded stakes level after finding the waters too deep in the Gotham Stakes (G3) and the Matt Winn Stakes (G3). Though he finished a well-beaten sixth in the Matt Winn, he earned a career-best 82 Beyer speed figure for his efforts, which makes him competitive in this field.

2. Informative (12/1) – Another runner who failed to threaten in the Gotham and the Matt Winn, his most recent effort was a far-back sixth behind eventual Belmont Stakes runner Tap It to Win over this course and distance. He needed 8 starts to break his maiden and has only finished twice, but with a fast pace, his closing kick could increase those numbers.

3. Casino Grande (8/5) – The morning line favorite not only followed his debut win with repeat success, but he did so while improving his Beyer speed figures by 12 points (from 71 to 83). His tactical speed gives the nation’s winningest jockey options as he tries to win his third from as many starts. Doing so would likely place him in a Kentucky Derby (G1) prep next.

4. Sonneman (2/1) – He makes his first start for new trainer Steve Asmussen on a 2-race win streak that includes defeating optional claiming foes while going 7 furlongs at Gulfstream Park. He is bred to go long, but he also seems pace-dependent, so Jose Ortiz will need to keep him engaged early if he wants to win his stakes debut.

5. Prodigious Bay (3/1) – The speedy Ron Moquett trainee broke his maiden while setting the pace over the Oaklawn Park slop in his two-turn debut, then attempted to wire a salty optional claiming field over the same course and distance before fading to fourth. Expect Joel Rosario to send him to the front and try to hold on while cutting back to one turn.

6. Toy (8/1) – The Mike Trombetta trainee needed 6 starts to break his maiden, but he followed his first victory with another against allowance rivals. The lone gelding in the field makes his first start away from Laurel Park after posting back-to-back career-best Beyer speed figures (79 and 81), so it appears that the light may have turned on recently.

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