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On the morning of the Kentucky Derby, Team Casse woke with nerves that rivaled that of a child on Christmas morning, assistant trainer Norman Casse said. The team stayed busy racing other horses throughout the day, and around 6pm they began the "walk over" to the paddock, where the horse gets saddled and the jockey mounts.
Jockey Julien Leparoux rode the team's Danzig Moon. The contender gained speed along the final stretch, but finished fifth, with American Pharaoh placing first. "I'm going to spend my entire life trying to figure out how to win the Kentucky Derby at a pretty regular rate," Norman Casse said.
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The day before the Kentucky Derby, Casse Racing was busy prepping horses for races throughout the day. Assistant trainer Norman Casse said they must treat Derby Day, May 2, as any other racing day. But Casse admitted to having a superstition he can't shake. “My only superstition is that I have what I would call 'unlucky ties', he said. “If I'm wearing a tie that hasn't won a race, I'll just throw it away.” As of Friday, May 1, Casse's competitor Danzig Moon's odds are 19:1.
Julien Leparoux returns to the Kentucky Derby for the eighth time, where he will ride Danzig Moon out of gate 5, with 30:1 odds. The 31-year-old Frenchman said being at this race "is a dream come true."
Underdog Danzig Moon drew #5 for the starting gate at Saturday's derby. While trainer Mark Casse says it is a tough position, last year's Kentucky Derby winner was also in gate 5.
Danzig Moon's assistant trainer Norman Casse is a third generation horseman, who learned the trade from his father Mark Casse.
For the younger Casse, following in his father's footsteps wasn't always a given. But today, he can't imagine doing anything else.
This is the second year the father-son team will be at the start line of the Kentucky Derby, this time with longshot Danzig Moon.
Danzig Moon is an underdog with current odds of 40-1.
But what people don't see, and what could carry Danzig Moon to a win, is a pedigree conducive to long distances, such as the 1 1/4-mile race at Churchill Downs. Also, he's running on home turf.
Norman Casse is a third-generation horseman. This year, his family's business, Casse Racing, will be sending longshot Danzig Moon to the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby.
"This will be our third Derby starter," Casse said, though only the second since he has directly participated as an assistant trainer to his father, Mark Casse, lead trainer.
After Danzig Moon finished second in the Blue Grass Stakes, the underdog is poised for a strong performance Saturday. Check back for daily updates on Danzig Moon and Casse Racing.