Double Crown, Cash Seek First Grade I In Cigar

Norman Cash | Coady

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Just after hitting the 1 1/2-year anniversary mark of sending out his first entry as a licensed trainer, Norman “Lynn” Cash secured his first graded stakes victory with Double Crown (Bourbon Courage), the longest shot on the board at 42-1, who ran down favorite Baby Yoda (Prospective) to clinch the GII Kelso H. at Belmont at the Big A Oct. 29. This Saturday, Cash hopes to take his training career to the next level, as Double Crown returns to Aqueduct, along with stablemate Outlier (Not This Time), to contest the GI Cigar Mile H.

“[Double Crown] is chomping at the bit to get out there, he's probably got more energy than he's ever had,” said Cash, who owns the Maryland-bred with his wife, Lola. “I was wanting to find something either 14 days or 21 days out, so that he would be coming off of about three weeks' rest, but it just worked out that there was nothing we could really find that seemed like a good fit for him, so we just kept him on the shelf. He's training really well and we're hopeful.”

The 5-year-old bay gelding, sitting at 15-1 on the morning line, drew the rail, while Outlier drew the sixth post.

“This is only the second Grade I I've ever had horses in and the way it's looking, we have a mediocre chance, but then again, that's about as good as we've had. I've got [Outlier] in there that likes the front end, who will hopefully keep the pace honest,” said Cash. “In my mind sometimes, I have to pick things apart and find the strength of my horses and the weaknesses of others. I think there's a couple of them that like it a little shorter, that maybe the mile is the far end of their comfort zone, and I'm hoping that the deep mile in that deep track at Aqueduct kind of plays to our advantage.”

For Cash, the numbers speak volumes, especially when it came to Double Crown. So much so, that the Midway, Ky., resident, on a rare day with no horses running, took a special trip to Churchill Downs in early June to drop a claim slip on the Maryland-bred who was entered in a mile-long claimer for a $40,000 tag. Double Crown finished second, by a neck, while Cash came out on top in the seven-way shake.

“I'm stabled at Laurel Park and here in Lexington, and that was the first thing that made me look at him: he was a Maryland-bred and he had solid numbers,” said Cash. “He had won a couple of stakes early on in Florida [as a 3-year-old] and ran second in the Maryland Million Sprint [last year]. It's a small thing, but the extra 15% that Maryland pays for Maryland-breds, when you're trying to get your bills paid at the end of the month, sometimes things like that make a difference.”

Double Crown romped in the Kelso | Coglianese

Cash kept his new trainee in Kentucky for his next two starts, where the gelding picked up back-to-back seconds at Churchill, before shipping him up to his Maryland base. He tried running him at a variety of distances, over a range of surfaces, including the turf at Laurel for the Ben's Cat S. (going 5 1/2 furlongs) and the all-weather track at Presque Isle Downs for the Peach Street S. (going a mile and 70 yards), through the summer into early fall, with his best results a victory at Colonial Downs in allowance company and a runner-up finish in the Polynesian S. at Pimlico, both going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.

All of this led to his start in the Oct. 22 Maryland Million Classic S., which resulted in a disappointing fourth, as he finished 6 1/4 lengths behind the winner Ournationonparade (Cal Nation).

And when it was time to look ahead for a potential next target, it seemed things began to fall into place, all pointing toward the mile-long Kelso, just seven days later.

“It was like he never really got out and was able to move in the Maryland Million Classic, when he ran fourth, and we felt like he just wasn't spent, that he had effort to go. We debated whether or not to put him in the Kelso, and finally, probably what made the decision was that I had [fellow Maryland-bred] Eastern Bay [E Dubai] in that same day, so I [already] had a van going. I called the racing office there in New York and they said they've got a five-horse field and I'm like 'Wow, how do you not go to that race?'” said Cash.

The rest was history, as Double Crown bided time near the back of the pack, found his opening while coming down the stretch, hit a second gear to catch Baby Yoda and flew past to cross the wire 1 3/4 lengths ahead, securing the first career graded stakes victory for himself and his owner/trainer.

The whirlwind of emotions hit Cash and his wife all the way in Salt Lake City, Utah, where they had traveled to attend a family member's funeral. They made it to their rental car just two minutes before the horses loaded into the gate, watched the race unfold on their iPad, felt their hope grow as the field turned for home and erupted in celebration as Double Crown and jockey J.D. Acosta, sporting the red and black silks of the Cash family's Built Wright Stables, crossed the finish line first.

Cash (middle) and his wife, Lola (right), at Turfway earlier this year | Coady

“We probably looked like we were crazy as people drove past, because we were laughing and high-fiving and jumping and pumping, just ecstatic over this. It was quite a day and then, an hour later, Eastern Bay missed the GIII Bold Ruler S. I bet by two or three inches,” said Cash. “I can assure you that nobody was more surprised with the win with me.”

Rising from the claiming ranks to stakes company and later the winner's circle following a Grade II victory, with a Grade I debut just ahead, Double Crown reflects the successful, albeit unique, training program by today's industry standards that Cash has developed since getting into the sport.

“You've probably noticed that we run our horses a little more frequently. If I could plan every race I had, every horse would have 11 or 12 days off. Any time I have to choose between a race [coming up] at nine days and another coming up at 19 days, where I either have to go two or three days before what I think is perfect, or seven days later than what I think is perfect, I go nine days every time, [depending on] the horse being sound and everything,” explained Cash.

Between the time he was claimed, June 5, and his most recent start, Oct. 29, Double Crown has averaged two starts a month, with his longest break the past five weeks leading up to the Cigar.

“He's a horse that runs his race, whatever level that is. Let's say we're doing speed ratings. He runs a 98 to 102 speed rating, and if the race falls below that because maybe the pace is too fast and they all are tired in the end and he can come get them, then he wins. If the race stays above that level, he gives you everything he has but that's what he can give you, and he comes in second, third. But he's definitely an honest horse, he leaves it out there for you every time, [off of a] short or long rest,” said Cash.

Another prime example is Cash's trainee Beverly Park (Munnings), who recently scored his 13th win of the year in his 28th seasonal start Nov. 28 at Mahoning Valley Race Course. Claimed for $12,500 Aug. 5, 2021, Beverly Park's number of starts this year also leads the continent, and if all bodes well, he isn't finished with his 5-year-old season just yet.

“I don't know if I'm a fan-favorite but I know the horse is,” added Cash.

Beverly Park in one of his 13 wins of 2022 | Coady

The growth of Cash's stable, his ever-increasing success on the track and his love of the horse fuels the passion that inspired him to turn a hobby into a fully fledged career in the first place.

“I do feel that horses know when they're loved and when they're not, and I feel like they produce better when they're treated [well]. I'm probably more handsy and 'huggy' and 'kissy' with my horses than most trainers are, maybe it's not a manly thing, but when I saddle, I'll be right there and I just kind of stand there and rub their neck underneath, just spending some time with them,” said Cash.

When it comes to the Cigar, Cash knows that Double Crown and Outlier will both likely be perceived as the underdogs, just as the Maryland-bred was in the Kelso, but he's okay with that.

“Sometimes it doesn't matter what the odds board says, what the speed rating says, whatever. It comes down to how the race goes and again, I think I have a hard-knocker here that will give his 100 speed rating performance.”

Though nothing is official yet, Cash says he's had a couple of phone calls about big races that are coming up, which may be on the horizon for Double Crown in 2023.

Despite the weight of what Saturday could bring, Cash continues with his regular day-to-day operation, overseeing the 45 to 50 horses in training, all owned by him and his wife, between his 27 stalls at the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington and his 30 stalls at Laurel, along with his own 31-acre farm in Midway, which houses layups and a few mares.

“I'm a roofing contractor, a year and a half away from roofing contracting, that is having the time of his life and never dreamed any of this. I was just going to claim a few horses and have some fun when I got my trainer's license and it's just crazy how some of these horses have blossomed,” said Cash. “Eastern Bay, what an amazing 8-year-old that guy is, and Double Crown, I don't know if he's improved the most, but by type of races he's won, he certainly has. It seems like we're running in five, six, seven stakes a month, with different horses, and I've probably got five or six legitimate stakes horses. That's exciting.”

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