Owner/breeder Ro Jo Racing (Joe Falsetta and his aunt, Rose Nolan) hope to find that out some day with Cassa’s Image, who can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to a good draw.
The 4-year-old trotting mare, currently the lone horse owned by Ro Jo Racing, will be racing in the first leg of Thursday’s Super Bowl Series at the Meadowlands. In a rarity, Cassa’s Image drew the rail.
However, of the four divisions, she is in the toughest one by far.
“If she was in one of the other three divisions, I would be talking more highly about her chances,” said Falsetta, a Staten Island product who started Ro Jo Racing with Nolan in 2004. “She drew in with three of the best horses that race has to offer. That’s par for the course for this horse so far.
“But I’m not complaining. I’m very grateful with how she has raced and stayed healthy and with what (trainer) Bruce (Saunders) has done for her. I probably wouldn’t change anything.”
Cassa’s Image comes from good bloodlines, as her father is Credit Winner and her mother is Cassatt, who was owned by Ro Jo during the last four years of her career. She ended with 24 wins in 146 starts, earning $212,963 before they made her a broodmare.
“She did well for us,” Falsetta said. “She bought plenty of horses for us with her earnings. She got hurt, we had to make a decision what to do with her, and we decided to breed her. Cassa’s Image was her first, and now she just had a second foal with Credit Winner about a year ago. Credit Winner’s as good as it gets as far as breeding talented horses.”
Cassa’s Image is not a carbon copy of her mom, but Falsetta said she did inherit Cassatt’s extraordinary gait.
“She got her gait from her mom, and that was one of the main reasons we decided to breed her,” Falsetta said. “Her mother never made a break, and Cassa never has, and she’s had lots of opportunities to do so in the races she’s had, with horses falling in front of her, things going wrong. She’s had opportunities to take off, but she hasn’t.”
Falsetta, Nolan and Saunders decided not to race Cassa’s Image as a 2-year-old, preferring not to take any chances.
“There was no drama to that, nothing really to speak of,” Falsetta said. “She had a very small hiccup, nothing major. We like to do right by these horses that we own and train. We had a decision to make.
“Bruce liked her. Instead of bringing her back at the end of the year, we decided to bring her back in as a 3-year-old and we were rewarded.”
As a sophomore, Cassa’s Image had one win in 20 races, but still managed to earn $70,300, with the bulk of that coming on the New York Sire Stakes circuit. Considering where she started in a lot of those races, that wasn’t too shabby.
“She drew the seven and eight hole in the Sire Stakes races in every start,” Falsetta said. “I can’t even tell you how unfortunate it was. The New York sires program is rock solid tough. She raced for a lot of money every start, she was just very unlucky. It was comical actually.”
But Joe wasn’t laughing.
“No,” he said with a laugh. “More like crying.”
“But she still made 70,000,” he added. “The pole position hurt, if she drew well in some of these starts she would have made more money. The one race she won at Yonkers, she set the track record.”
Cassa’s Image also won at Yonkers this past Monday, so Falsetta hopes that could be a good sign.
“She won Monday, and maybe now we’re stepping up into the big girls,” he said. “I think she’s still learning and I guess you could say there’s some untapped potential. She’s learning and she’s getting better.”
Falsetta feels Cassa’s Image can race out front or from behind, but feels that with the competitive field on Thursday she will be better served using the latter tactics.
“I think if she has a good trip (Thursday) she has a chance to get some money,” he said. “I think she’s as good as most of them but probably not as good as a couple that she drew tomorrow. There are a couple I’m not sure she can go with.
“But she drew the rail, she’ll be the long shot but they run these races for a reason. Anything is possible. If other horses break, you can get lucky, and so on and so on.”
Ro Jo plans on racing the mare in next week’s second leg of the Super Bowl series, and from there the season’s plans are uncertain aside from some overnight races.
“It’s a little bit of wait and see,” Falsetta said. “It’s a big step up as a 4-year-old; it’s tough, and the party’s over, kind of. It’s a difficult transition.
“We’re pretty much at that point of classifying her and getting her in competitive spots to pay her way. It’s what we’re about. We want to make money. That’s easier said than done.”
You need a little luck.
Something Falsetta and Nolan hope to get one of these days.