ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The queen of the turf, Tepin, has taken her talents north of the border for Saturday’s $1 million Woodbine Mile, but is she poised to bring her “A” game off a three-month layoff?
Tepin is unbeaten in her last seven outings. Her memorable victory over males in last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile enabled her to clinch the Eclipse Award for the champion female turf runner. This year, Tepin picked up right where she left off by winning all five of her races. Following a pair of graded stakes scores at Tampa Bay Downs, she took the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley by five lengths at Keeneland and then won the
In June, owner Robert Masterson and trainer Mark Casse got ambitious for Tepin’s most recent start, shipping her to England for the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes going a straight mile at the prestigious Royal Ascot meet. Over soft ground that wasn’t to her liking and without Lasix, she prevailed by a half-length in a gritty performance under regular rider Julien Leparoux.
Tepin has been working at Saratoga, where she spent most of the summer under the watchful eye of assistant trainer Norm Casse.
“She’s always run well fresh,” Norm Casse said. “In that way, I’m confident. Her works were the way that we like them to be. All indicators are she’s ready. I’m cautiously optimistic.”
The 20th running of the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile attracted a field of eight and heads a spectacular card that also includes the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf, the Grade 2 Canadian, and the Grade 3 Ontario Derby.
The Woodbine Mile and Canadian are Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In qualifiers. The Mile has yielded four BC Mile winners, including Wise Dan and Court Vision.
The Woodbine Mile, the 12th and final race on the card, will be broadcast on TSN2 in Canada from 6-7 p.m. Eastern. Post time is 6:39.
Saturday’s early pick four has a guaranteed pool of $150,000, and the late one is guaranteed at $250,000. The early pick five is guaranteed at $50,000. A late pick five has been added, with a $100,000 minimum.
There is no show wagering on the Woodbine Mile.
Tepin, by Bernstein
Last 3 Beyers: 102-107-107
From the outside, post 8, she figures to track the projected pacesetter, Arod, before making her move.
“She’s very versatile,” said Norm Casse. “Ideally, we’d like her to sit off somebody. I think she relaxes a little better that way. The slower they go early, the more effective her kick is late. If she gets comfortable early, she’s going to be really tough to beat.”
The only filly or mare to win the Woodbine Mile was Ventura, who prevailed off a five-month layoff in 2009 for trainer Bobby Frankel.
Mutakayyef, by Sea The Stars
By far the best of the Europeans invaders, the 5-year-old is coming off a troubled third behind the highly accomplished Postponed and Group 1 winner Highland Reel in the Group 1 Juddmonte International at York. He was previously victorious in the Group 2 Summer Mile at Ascot.
He was gelded over the winter and this year has won 2 of 3 starts.
“He has made a significant step up,” said trainer William Haggas. “He has improved since his gelding operation last winter. His form is strong, although not quite as strong as that shown by Tepin.”
His fruitful 2015 campaign included a second to the brilliant miler Solow in a Group 1 at Epsom. His recent form was poor before a third-place finish in the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood on Aug. 27.
“I was very happy with his last race,” said trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam. “My horses had been very sick, and he was the same, so, really, it was like his first run of the year.”
Assistant trainer Gary Hindmarch said Arod could lead the way Saturday.
“He likes to be in front, but if someone tears off, he’s quite happy to sit behind,” said Hindmarch. “The ground is a key factor with him. He wants it like the road.”
Mr. Owen, by Invincible Spirit
He was a nonthreatening sixth in last year’s Woodbine Mile after getting away slowly and racing three wide on the turn. He has been idle since July 17, when he wound up second in the Group 3 Prix Messidor at Maisons-Laffitte in France.
Full Mast, by Mizzen Mast
Last 3 Beyers: 103-96-102
He was a Group 3 winner in France before joining trainer Bill Mott’s barn this year. After landing an optional claimer at Belmont in June, he was a troubled fourth in the Grade 2 King Edward here July 2 and is exiting a narrow loss in the Lure Stakes at Saratoga.
Mott won the inaugural Woodbine Mile with Geri.
Glenville Gardens, by Street Cry
Last 3 Beyers: 98-94-91
The sharpest local runner, he took the local prep, the Grade 2 Play the King.
Trainer Sid Attard claimed him for $40,000 last September. Attard won the 2001 Woodbine Mile with 6-1 shot Numerous Times.