Reigning Canadian Horse of the Year Fev Rover (IRE) goes for second straight Grade 2 Nassau score / Oceanic steps back into Grade 2 Highlander spotlight

Reigning Canadian Horse of the Year Fev Rover (IRE) goes for second straight Grade 2 Nassau score / Oceanic steps back into Grade 2 Highlander spotlight

TORONTO, June 26, 2024 – A pair of Grade 2 turf events, the $200,000 bet365 Highlander, and $175,000 Nassau, share the stage with a trio of other graded stakes as part of the Canada Day Racing Festival, Saturday at Woodbine.  

The world-renowned E.P. Taylor turf will play host to a pair of standout fields in this year’s runnings of one-mile Nassau (for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up) and the six-furlong Highlander (for 4-year-olds and up).

Fev Rover (IRE), Canada’s reigning Horse of the Year, returns to Woodbine with her sights set on a second straight Nassau (G2T) title.

Trained by Mark Casse for owner Tracy Farmer, the 6-year-old daughter of Gutaifan (IRE)-Laurelita (IRE), who also earned Champion Female Turf Horse recognition at the 49th annual Sovereign Awards ceremony in April, exercised great patience before bursting ahead to a 4 ¼-length clearance in last year’s edition of the one-mile, $175,000 turf contest for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up.

No stranger to dominant efforts, the multiple graded stakes-winning Fev Rover has a penchant for outdoing herself on the biggest of stages.  

“I would say the [2023] E.P. Taylor is likely her best performance,” noted Casse, of the 2 ¼-length victory in the 1 ¼-mile affair. “I thought her race in the [2023] Beverly D. was excellent. She was able to do things her way and win that one. Her race in the [2023] Diana was very good. She was third, but maybe with a little better trip, she could have given the winner a run for the money.”

Casse, a dual Hall of Famer, who has conditioned several standouts, including Eclipse Award winners Tepin (also a member of both the Canadian and US horse racing hall of fames), World Approval, and Classic Empire, knows a talented runner when he sees one.

His sense was no different with Fev Rover, but the conditioner with nearly 3,750 career wins understood this one’s ascent to greatness was not going to come overnight.

"It took a long time,” recalled Casse, of the horse purchased by Farmer for nearly $1 million (U.S.) at the 2021 Tattersalls December Mares Sale. “She was as ornery as could be.

“When we first got her from Europe, we could hardly get her to go to the track. She went to Tracy’s farm when she first came and on the first day there, when they turned her out, she cleared the fence, which no horse has ever done there before.” 

Fev Rover’s fiery nature was once again on full display ahead of her most recent trip, the $750,000 New York (G1T) at Saratoga, where she battled through a bout of sensory overload to finish sixth.

“At Saratoga, horses go into a holding barn,” noted Casse. “From there to the paddock, there are people on both sides of you and it can get quite loud. It blows her mind. She can't handle that. When she made it to the paddock, she was really cranked up. I knew at that point it wasn't going to be easy for her.

“On the way to the gate [in the New York Stakes], she threw Javier [jockey, Castellano] off twice. Last year in the Diana [also at Saratoga], she threw a fit in the gate.”

The accomplished mare didn’t let a difficult load affect her in the Diana, however, as she was able to respond with a resilient third.

Back on familiar ground at Woodbine (home to six of her 10 North American starts), Fev Rover’s Nassau title defence begins with harnessing her emotions.

“Prior to the E.P. Taylor win, she ran in the Canadian [finishing fourth] and it was maybe the worst performance of her career,” said Casse. “She threw a fit before that race too. 

“She came back a month later and won the E.P. Taylor easily. That day, she behaved.”

Casse, who joined Fev Rover in the Sovereign spotlight as last year’s Outstanding Trainer recipient, compared his dynamic competitor’s desire to win to that of two of the greatest athletes in recent memory.

"She's tough. Like one of the Williams sisters, Venus or Serena,” he said of the tennis stars. “Both those athletes are tough as nails, so strong and powerful. And that’s Fev Rover.” 

Bred in Ireland by Manister House Stud, Fev Rover made her North American debut on July 24, 2022, in the Dance Smartly (G2T) at Woodbine, finishing second behind 6-5 choice and fellow Emerald Isle native Wakanaka.

Fev Rover comes into the Nassau with a 6-4-3 mark from 21 starts and $1,289,647 (U.S.) in career earnings. 

Other starters include multiple graded stakes winner Millie Girl, Canada’s Champion Older Main Track Female in 2023, as well as graded stakes winners Cairo Consort, who was Canada’s Champion 2-Year-Old Filly in 2022, Full Count Felicia, Safeen (supplemented to the race), and Implicated. Casse will also send out graded stakes-placed Forever Dixie.

“He's a really cool horse”: Oceanic steps back into Grade 2 Highlander spotlight

TORONTO, June 26, 2024 – Oceanic, a multiple graded stakes-placed son of Constitution-Rockin Girl, will look to go one better than he did in last year’s bet365 Highlander when he finished second, by a half-length, to Lucky Score.  

Trained by Jordan Blair for Surfside Stables, LLC, 7-year-old Oceanic has compiled a 5-3-3 mark from 28 starts, to go along with $426,632 (U.S.) in earnings. 

“He's a really cool horse,” said Blair. “I'd say he’s laid-back but he's all business. He can be aggressive in the mornings and he likes his space in his stall, but he’s just playing, he’s not mean. Everybody that rides him in the morning and afternoon absolutely loves him. He’s got a nice way of going.”

The bay, who was seventh in last October’s Nearctic Stakes (G2T), returns to Woodbine in winning form.

In his first start of the year, Oceanic circled the field late to take a 5 ½-furlong allowance sprint over “good” ground at Keeneland on April 19.

“He loves Keeneland,” noted Blair. “We try to go back there every year.” 

Blair sees the E.P. Taylor course as an ideal fit for Oceanic. 

“We think he likes Woodbine’s turf course just as much as Keeneland’s. He ran so well over both last year, even on the yielding going and the second go-round. That’s a major factor as far as coming back up. He seems to really love that course.”

Bred in Kentucky by DP Racing LLC, Oceanic debuted with a second-place effort on April 1, 2020, in a six-furlong dirt race at Tampa Bay Downs. He broke his maiden in his seventh start, a 4 ½-length score at five panels over the Tampa Bay turf on January 17, 2021. 

His lone stakes victory came in last year’s Woodford Reserve Da Hoss Stakes. He was second in the Woodford Reserve (G2T) next time out and then contested the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T), finishing thirteenth to Caravel. 

Blair is hoping the third time at Woodbine is the charm, where his veteran campaigner can go from multiple graded stakes placed to graded stakes winner.

“For a while there, he was just a speed only, 'catch me if you can' type of horse, but he’s really changed every year that he’s gotten older, to relax off the pace and make one big run. We always thought he was a nice horse. There was a time where I had my doubts, and then as soon as we got him sprinting on the turf, it changed everything for him.

“He’s coming into this doing really well. We’ve taken a different approach this year than we have in years past now that he's getting older. We’ve had a lot of years to learn about him. We’re spacing his races out. He seems to run very well off of freshening and training rather than more races. He’s been training excellent, so he's coming in in really good shape.”

Mark Casse sends out the multiple graded stakes winner Filo Di Arianna (BRZ), and three-time winner Step Forward. Saffie Joseph, Jr. has a pair of hopefuls, multiple graded stakes placed County Final, and Saratoga Flash.

Sid Attard won three straight editions of the Highlander, with Signature Red in 2010 and 2011, and Smokey Fire in 2012. 

First post time is 1:10 p.m. Fans can also watch and wager on all the action via and

Field for the $200,000 Highlander Stakes (G2T) – Race 7

Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer 

1 – Secret Reserve – Leo Salles – Mike Mattine

2 – County Final – Sofia Vives – Saffie Joseph, Jr.

3 – Oceanic – Reylu Gutierrez – Jordan Blair

4 – Saratoga Flash – Adam Beschizza – Saffie Joseph, Jr.

5 – Old Chestnut – Eswan Flores – Martin Drexler

6 – Filo Di Arianna (BRZ) – Kazushi Kimura – Mark Casse

7 – Hunt Master – Jeffrey Alderson – Angus Buntain

8 – Step Forward – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse

9 – Witty – Rafael Hernandez – Elizabeth Merryman

Field for the $175,000 Nassau Stakes (G2T) – Race 10

Post – Horse – Jockey - Trainer 

1 – Safeen (S) – David Moran – Eddie Kenneally

2 – Implicated – Declan Cannon – Brendan Walsh

3 – Forever Dixie – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse

4 – Devil’s Bit – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Roger Attfield

5 – Mille Girl – Ryan Munger – Catherine Day Phillips

6 – Full Count Felicia – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard

7 – Fev Rover (IRE) – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse

8 – Dana’s Beauty – Luis Contreras – Michael Maker

9 – Cairo Consort – Kazushi Kimura – Kevin Attard

10 – Fast as Flight – Adam Beschizza – Martin Drexler

Matthew Lomon, for Woodbine Communications

Grace Martin
Grace Martin Communications Specialist, Woodbine Entertainment
Horse Racing - TB
About Woodbine Entertainment

Woodbine Entertainment is the largest horse racing operator in Canada, with Thoroughbred horse racing at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, and Standardbred horse racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Milton. Woodbine Entertaiment also owns and operates HPIbet, Canada’s only betting platform dedicated to horse racing. Woodbine and Mohawk Park are host to several world-class racing events including The King’s Plate, three Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races, and the Pepsi North America Cup. Run without share capital, Woodbine Entertainment has a mandate to financially invest all profit back into the horse racing industry and the 25,000 jobs it supports across Ontario.   

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