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ELMONT, N.Y. – Royal Ascot heroine Tepin brought a little extra star power to New York this weekend as the Group 1 Queen Anne winner scheduled in a short stop on her world tour at historic Belmont Park.
Tepin cleared quarantine Friday afternoon and settled in for her brief sojourn in fine order, according to Randi Melton, trainer Mark Casse’s Belmont-based assistant. The 5-year-old daughter of Bernstein walked and grazed Saturday morning with a contentment that would belie any indications of her recent European exploits.
“She looks great even for a horse that just walked over to the track here [to run],” said Melton. “For her to look this good after a trip like that, coming out of quarantine and everything, it’s unbelievable.”
Already honored as the 2015 Eclipse Award Champion Grass Mare, Tepin has been perfect in four stakes starts this year, including her history-making, half-length victory at England’s most prestigious race meet as the first American horse to win the Queen Anne.
Tepin is set to head back Sunday afternoon to Churchill Downs, where she is expected to arrive early Monday morning, said Norm Casse, the head assistant to his father.
“She looks well, she’s traveled well,” Casse reported. “She’s a special horse. She can apparently do these kinds of things and not be any worse for the wear. That’s one of the things that has allowed her to do all of this.”
Tepin, who won the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont last summer and finished second by the smallest of margins in both the Grade 1 Diana and Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga Race Course, will be based at the Spa again this summer, said Casse.
“She will come up and join our division at Saratoga,” he said. “We want to get her up there and have her there with us training. Right now, it seems likely that she’ll go in the Woodbine Mile but if we feel she’s doing really, really well, there’s a possibility [of a race at Saratoga].”
Stonestreet Stables’ Rachel’s Valentina is set to make her fifth consecutive graded stakes start in the Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose on July 2 at Belmont Park. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the daughter of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra has looked good in training after a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks last out. Rachel’s Valentina breezed four furlongs in 48.56 seconds on Friday on Belmont’s training track.
“All systems are good and we’re planning to run,” Pletcher said. “She’s training well and we’re looking forward to running her again.”
Outwork, who finished 14th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, is expected to run in the Grade 3, $500,000 Dwyer on July 9 as part of Belmont Park’s Stars & Stripes Festival. The Grade 1 Wood Memorial winner also breezed Friday at Belmont, clocking five furlongs in 1:01.05.
“He worked on Friday and everything is on schedule with him,” Pletcher said.
Pletcher, who is currently in Saratoga, said he watched Far From Over’s win on Friday on television. The Black Rock Thoroughbreds’ bay colt improved to 3-for-3 in his career with a triumphant return from a 16-month layoff to win an optional claimer.
“I was impressed, I thought he ran well,” Pletcher said.”I was a little concerned, he was running close to some very fast fractions but it was a very good performance off an extended layoff and it’s exciting to have him back in action.”
Bronson, a 2-year-old colt by Medaglia d’Oro, broke his maiden in his first race on June 18 and is now a possibility for his first graded stakes start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford on July 23 at Saratoga.
“He seemed to come out of the last race well, so we’re considering the Sanford,” Pletcher said.
Destin, who ran a close second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, came out of the race well and has good energy levels, Pletcher said. The trainer added that Destin could be pointed toward the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy or the Grade 1 Haskell.
Stronach Stable’s Shaman Ghost has trained well following his Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational win on June 11, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said on Saturday morning, and is on target for a possible start in the Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban on July 9 at Belmont Park.
“We’re not 100% sure we’re going to run but we’re nominated,” said Jerkens. “I think it’s a good spot for him and there really isn’t anything else around. It seems like the logical spot. We’re leaning towards running as opposed to not running, let’s put it that way.”
Shaman Ghost returned from a nearly ten-month layoff after recovering from ankle surgery to finish an encouraging third in his 4-year-old debut against optional claimers on May 21, his first start since joining Jerkens’ Palm Meadows string in December, before coming back the following month with a 4 ¼-length victory in the 1 ½-mile Brooklyn.
“All of a sudden, he just clicked,” Jerkens said. “I really liked him [going into the Brooklyn]. I thought he was going to run big in there. I thought his comeback race was terrific and it all worked out. He’s a good quality horse. It’s hard to say that he’s the cream of the crop of the handicap division but I think he can be. He definitely has the quality for it.”
Shaman Ghost was trained by Brian Lynch during his 2- and 3-year-old campaigns, the latter of which included a four-race win streak that culminated in a 1 ¼-length victory in the Queens Plate and a second-place finish in the Prince of Wales, the first and second legs of the Canadian Triple Crown.
“When you go through the conditions like he did last year when Brian had him, he wasn’t at any easy meets either,” Jerkens said. “He was at Gulfstream and Keeneland and they took him to Canada to run in those big Canadian races. You don’t run through conditions like that unless you’ve got a lot of ability.”
Jerkens reported that Tri-Bone Stable’s reigning New York Horse of the Year Effinex has emerged from his sixth-place finish in last weekend’s Grade 1 Stephen Foster in good condition and is also a possibility for the Suburban, although the Grade 1 winner’s most recent race still has the trainer at a bit of a loss.
“We don’t know why he didn’t run any good the other night,” he said. “I don’t see anything. I can’t understand that effort. He got hung out a little wide. Some horses, if they get hung out too wide and they’re chasing them wide like that, they get discouraged easy. I think that’s likely what happened.”
Likewise, Centennial Farm’s Unified has been in good order after suffering the first defeat of his career in the Grade 3 Pegasus last Saturday, Jerkens said, although there are no immediate plans for 3-year-old Candy Ride colt.
“He galloped yesterday just as good as a horse can gallop. Nothing showed up on the scope, nothing showed up on his legs,” he said. “aThe track was awful slow, I think that may have had something to do with it. He’s been used to the tracks he’s ran on and trained on in the last three months have been fast. When you get on a track that’s loose like that out of the blue, they react to it and get tired quick.”
Alpha Delta Stables’ multiple graded stakes winner Lewis Bay hit the Belmont main track this morning in preparation for a start in the Grade 1 $300,000 Mother Goose on Saturday, July 2.
Lewis Bay, who last out finished third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 6, worked four furlongs in 48.21 seconds on the main track. Trainer Chad Brown was impressed with how the 3-year-old daughter of Benardini looked in her final work before the race.
“She breezed fantastic today,” said Brown. “Her workouts are now completed, so we’re looking forward in returning her back to the races.”
Also notably breezing this morning for Brown was Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence’s Economic Model, who most recently picked up his first stakes win from six starts capturing the Easy Goer Stakes on June 11 at Belmont. Completing four furlongs in 49.56 on the main track, Brown is eyeing a possible start in the Grade 3 $500,000 Dwyer on July 9.
“He did fine. He had his first little workout since his Easy Goer win and we’re leaning towards running in the Dyer,” commented Brown.
Lastly, Brown confirmed his potential contenders for the upcoming Stars & Stripes festival on Saturday, July 9 would all be breezing tomorrow morning on the turf before making any final plans on who he may enter.
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