Straight course, soft ground, no Lasix – Tepin threw all those presumed impediments aside and scored an historic victory Tuesday at Royal Ascot in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes.
Becoming the first American-based winner of the Queen Anne, the famed first race of the Royal Ascot meeting, Tepin, always prominent under Julien Leparoux, beat Belardo by a half-length, with Lightning Spear third and Toormore fourth.
Tepin shipped overseas last week on a six-race winning streak, a Breeders’ Cup Mile winner who had dominated her division for the better part of a year now. But she was facing males again away from her home turf, and was racing without Lasix on an undulating straight course the likes of which she had never seen before, on ground softened by days of rain. The conditions all seemed to be against Tepin, who drifted in overseas betting to twice the price she had been last week, but not nothing could hold the great mare back.
“People say Americans have to have drugs — she had no drugs in her,” said owner Robert Masterson. “The biggest thing we had to worry about was the ground. She’d never been on a straightaway, never been up a hill. There were a lot of things to overcome for the first time, and she did it.”
The Queen Anne field split in two shortly after breaking from the gate, nine on the far side of the course and four, including Tepin, racing nearer the stands’ side rail. Tepin comfortably stalked the pace, clipping over the rain-softened ground with ease while always keeping the front-runners well within range. Leparoux began asking about a quarter-mile out, Tepin seized command at the furlong grounds, and she kept giving and giving to hold Belardo at bay.
“Julien actually hit her a couple times, and he normally doesn’t have to,” said winning trainer Mark Casse.
Tepin’s win came three years after Animal Kingdom finished 11th in the Queen Anne following his win in the Dubai World Cup. The trainer Wesley Ward has sent 2-year-olds and sprinters to win Royal Ascot winners in recent years, but Tepin is the rare prominent established older horse to travel from the U.S. for a race at Ascot, and she might have paved the way for future star appearances. She became the first horse since Goldikova in 2010 to win the Queen Anne the June after capturing the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Tepin in winning her seventh straight race ran her career record to 12 wins from 20 starts, and she is 15-10-3-0 on turf. Casse said the 5-year-old mare could be pointed for the Woodbine Mile as a prep for the BC Mile, and mentioned a trip to Dubai next year as a possibility, Tepin having shown she can ship far afield and carry her form without Lasix.
“I think you have to bring the right horse over here, and we brought the right horse,” said assistant trainer Norm Casse, who traveled with Tepin. “As soon as she got off the plane we knew she was going to be all right.”