Lila Kessinger’s Seperate Interest finished strongly to hold off recent two-time stakes winner Once Over by a neck to win the $25,000 Kaweah Bar Handicap on Saturday night, but on this day trainer Mike Casselman was just as excited talking about fellow Los Alamitos-based trainer Art Sherman and the sensational local hero California Chrome.
“It’s been a good day,” said Casselman, one of the most modest and hardest-working trainers at the Orange County oval. “What a fun day at Los Alamitos Race Course. California Chrome’s win is good for our racetrack, great for California. It’s been a lot of fun just being able to watch this.”
Casselman’s horses are stabled in one of first shedrows on the Los Alamitos barn area, so he’s been treated with one of the best seats in the house when it has come to watching California Chrome train.
“He goes (on the track) right in front of our barn,” said Casselman with a smile. “We get a good view. What a race he ran today. I’m so happy for those guys. My brother-in-law was here from Colorado on one of the days that California Chrome worked. He had never seen a horse like that and he was excited. I told him ‘You may have just seen the next Kentucky Derby winner.’
“I just love Art Sherman’s personality,” Casselman added. “I love to hear his answers to reporters’ questions. He said after the Santa Anita Derby that on the turn for home all he wanted to see was his children shouting and screaming. He had so many people around him on the day of California Chrome’s last work here at Los Alamitos (April 26), but then on the next morning on Sunday I saw Art walking by himself in the barn area. I told him I better take a picture of you right now because this might not happen again for a while."
What Casselman has seen several times now is a tremendous effort by his talented gray colt Seperate Interest. Ridden by Eduardo Nicasio, the son of Separatist was fifth at the start of the Kaweah Bar, but he was flying during the second half of the 350-yard race en route to a neck victory. Seperate Interest covered the distance in :17.404 while scoring his fifth win in 14 starts. Bred by Eaves Horses Family Ltd Partnership, Seperate Interest won the Town Policy Handicap last year and was second in the 2012 Golden State Million Futurity to World Champion One Dashing Eagle. He also ran second to Once Over in their previous meeting in the Katella Handicap.
“He ran a pretty good race tonight,” Casselman added. “He’ll be going in the Vessels Maturity trials from here if everything goes well.”
The Vessels trials will be held on Sunday, June 15.
Seperate Interest earned $13,750 for his Kaweah Handicap victory to take his lifetime earnings to $368,639.
Trained by Scott Willoughby for owner Ed Allred, Once Over earned $5,625 for running second. The gelding by Walk Thru Fire has started in four stakes races this year and has won two of them and finished second in the other two races. Rodrigo Aceves was aboard.
Remembering Spence, High School Secrets, Runaway Corky, Fols Jesse and Mister Michael completed the field.