Casners Armed For Dubai Return

My Johnny Be Good under work rider, Alexander Thompson on the Meydan training track on Friday morning.
Photo: Dubai Racing Club // Neville Hopwood

Bill and Susan Casner have won many of America’s most prestigious races, from the Kentucky Derby with Super Saver to the Belmont Stakes with Drosselmeyer, but the pinnacle of their years in horse racing was reached thousands of miles away from their Texas home.

Bill Casner still vividly remembers the words commentator Terry Spargo summoned when he called the finish of the 2009 Dubai World Cup, and his eyes still reflect the bright glimmer of that victory in the final race ever run at Nad Al Sheba.

“From Cigar to Well Armed, I believe that was the call that night,” Casner said while standing at the rail during morning training at Meydan this week. “That memory is burned into my mind—and that was good company to be in.”

Winning the world’s richest race in the hoofprints of legendary runners such as Cigar and Dubai Millennium was sweet enough, but for the Casners, the victory by their homebred Well Armed was even more meaningful because they had nursed the gelding back to health after a fractured pelvis left him near death.

“That was absolutely the highest mountain top that Susan and I have ever stood on,” Casner said of healing Well Armed and watching him crush his Dubai World Cup competition in a record-breaking 14-length win.

The euphoria of capturing the race has led the Casners back to the UAE this week in the company of Well Armed’s trainer, former Godolphin conditioner Eoin Harty, with hopes of reaching another racing peak. The trio has returned with a three-year-old colt they bred named My Johnny Be Good (USA), who will compete in the $2 million UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group.

“We’re excited about being here,” Casner said. “We’ve been waiting for a horse good enough to bring back to Dubai.”
My Johnny Be Good has won a pair of races, finished third in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and has potential to improve.

Casner described the bay colt as “a beautiful horse and a good-minded horse” and said he “shipped very well and couldn’t be doing any better.”

Harty has secured the services of American jockey Victor Espinoza, the regular rider of Horse of the Year California Chrome, the favourite in the $10 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates, for My Johnny Be Good.