TORONTO, September 2 – Robert Masterson’s Tepin, along with defending champion Mondialiste, headline a list of 30 horses nominated to the Grade 1 $1-million Ricoh Woodbine Mile, to be held Saturday, September 17, at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.
Tepin, a five-time Grade 1 winner and the Eclipse Award champion grass mare of 2015 known as the ‘Queen of the Turf’, brings a seven-race win streak into the Woodbine Mile.
Trained by Mark Casse, who was recently elected into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, the five-year-old daughter of Bernstein has been turning heads at Saratoga with a string of sharp turf works including a five furlong effort in :58.44 on August 29.
“She’s on her game right now. She’s been working very well,” said Casse. “She really likes the fall, when the weather gets a little cooler. You can see her attitude change. Right now, she’s doing extremely well.”
Tepin will arrive at Woodbine, along with a host of travelling media, three or four days ahead of the Woodbine Mile. The race will be televised live, as part of a special broadcast from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., on TSN2.
The well-regarded champion burst into the national spotlight in 2015 winning five times and finishing second twice in seven starts. Her victory in the Just a Game Stakes on June 6, in front of a packed house at Belmont Park waiting to see American Pharoah complete his Triple Crown run, helped shine a light on Tepin’s talent.
Following a pair of heartbreaking losses at Saratoga, by a nose to Hard Not to Like in the Grade 1 Diana and a desperate head to Dacita in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa, Tepin came good in the fall with a rousing seven-length score in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland over soft going to launch her current win streak.
She then took on the boys in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, defeating defending Woodbine Mile champ Mondialiste, to cap her champion season in style.
Tepin has been nothing short of spectacular in 2016 posting a pair of graded wins at Tampa Bay Downs, taking the Grade 3 Endeavour and Grade 2 Hillsborough, before heading to Keeneland to romp the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley by five lengths. After scoring in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs, Tepin faced her biggest challenge yet when shipping overseas to try the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, at Royal Ascot.
Racing on a straight mile course over soft turf didn’t trouble Tepin as she masterfully handled a heady field of 12, including males, to win by a 1/2-length.
“I think she made herself known as a good horse when she won the Just a Game at Belmont and established herself as a great horse when she won the First Lady at Keeneland in the fall before the Breeders’ Cup,” said Casse. “But she made herself one of the greatest of all time when she won at Royal Ascot.”
Tepin has now won at seven different tracks and will look to add another track to her list when she races over Woodbine’s world-famous E.P. Taylor Turf Course for the first time.
Casse admits that caring for such a well-regarded mare can be a nerve wracking experience.
“Every time she runs its nerve wracking,” laughed Casse. “Was I more nervous at Ascot? I was a little nervous because there were so many unknown factors, but I’ll probably be more nervous for her running at Woodbine, because she’s expected to win.
“There were so many things going against her at Royal Ascot that if she had gotten beat it would have been a little easier to understand,” continued Casse. “But, she’s expected to win at Woodbine. She’ll be coming off a long layoff for the Woodbine Mile and we haven’t often had this much time between races. However, there won’t be any excuses at Woodbine, so I’ll be nervous.”
Woodbine’s European-style turf course, which offers a one-turn mile and a lengthy quarter-mile stretch run, can be tricky.
“I’ve seen a lot of good horses go there and not run well,” agreed Casse. “So, it’s a concern, but honestly she’s handled everything thrown at her and her ability to handle Ascot the way she did leads me to believe there should be no issues at Woodbine.”
A first victory in the $1-million, Grade 1 event would mean a lot to the veteran conditioner.
“Woodbine, and Toronto, has been our second home so to be able to bring a filly like Tepin to Woodbine and win of the biggest races would make me very proud,” he said.
And, he would love to see a packed grandstand for the Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
“They’re going to have a chance to see one of the greatest turf race mares of all time,” said Casse.
A well-regarded group of Woodbine Mile nominees includes defending champion Mondialiste, a versatile son of Galileo, who recently captured the 1 1/4-mile Grade 1 Arlington Million earning a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Last year, the Irish-bred Mondialiste rallied furiously down the stretch to edge favoured Lea and win the $1 million, Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile providing a first win in the turf classic for owners Geoff and Sandra Turnbull, trainer David O’Meara and jockey Feargal Lynch.
Obviously, the pacesetter in the 2015 Mile, is also among the nominees. Trained by Philip D’Amato, the Irish-bred son of Choisir is a multiple graded stakes winner and currently in good form having won the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park last time out.
Chad Brown, second leading trainer in North America, has nominated three to the Mile including A Lot, Offering Plan and Takeover Target.
A Lot, a four-year-old son of Tapit, recently finished second to Tourist in the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga; Offering Plan, a multiple graded stakes placed son of Spring At Last, was third last time out in the West Point Stakes at Saratoga; and Takeover Target, a multiple graded stakes winning son of Harlan’s Holiday, boasts victories in Saratoga’s Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes and the Grade 2 Longines Dixie Stakes, at Pimlico.
Legendary Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has nominated Cougar Mountain and improving sophomore Long Island Sound. The latter horse was narrowly defeated by Beach Patrol in a head bob finish in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes last time out at Arlington Park.
Local hopes in the $1-million Ricoh Woodbine Mile include Glenville Gardens, Passion for Action and Tower of Texas.
Glenville Gardens, trained by Sid Attard for Janice Attard, made the grade last time out with a 1/2-length score over Tower of Texas. The upwardly mobile son of Street Cry was claimed by Attard for $40,000 on September 13, 2015 and has since won five of seven starts for new connections.
Passion for Action, trained by Mike DePaulo for owner-breeder Ben Hutzel, is a multiple graded stakes winning son of Speightstown. The Ontario-bred colt made the grade in the Grade 3 Vigil Stakes on May 7 and has since added a score in the turf Grade 2 Highlander to his resume.
Tower of Texas, trained by multiple Hall of Famer Roger Attfield for owners Thomas Van Meter II and Scott Dilworth, is often in the hunt with a record of 4-7-3 from 18 starts. The Ontario-bred son of Street Sense captured the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes on June 21, 2015. He finished seventh in the 2015 Mile.
A full list of nominated horses is available below.
The lucrative Saturday, September 17 card also features the Grade 1 $300,000 Northern Dancer Stakes, presented by HPIBet, and the Grade 2 $300,000 Canadian Stakes, which offers Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In status.
In addition, the Sunday, September 18 card at Woodbine includes two Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In races for two-year-olds highlighted by the $250,000 Grade 1 Natalma Stakes for fillies and the $200,000 Grade 2 Summer Stakes, both to be contested at one mile on the grass.
Last year, Catch a Glimpse captured the Natalma en route to a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and Horse of the Year honours in Canada.
NOMINEES FOR THE GRADE 1 $1-MILLION RICOH WOODBINE MILE
HORSE / OWNER / TRAINER
A Lot / Amerman Racing LLC / Chad Brown
Arod / Qatar Racing Limited / Peter Chapple-Hyam
Berliner / Stronach Stables / Nick Gonzalez
Blacktype / Jump Sucker Stable / Christophe Clement
Conquest Enforcer / Conquest Stables LLC / Mark Casse
Cougar Mountain / M. Tabor, D. Smith, Mrs. J. Magnier, & Mrs. A.M. O’Brien/ Aidan O’Brien
Dimension / Riverside Bloodstock LLC / Conor Murphy
Dragon Mall / Mohammed Jaber / David Simcock
Dutch Connection / Godolphin / Charles Hills
Full Mast / Juddmonte Farms / William Mott
Glenville Gardens / Janice Attard / Sid Attard
Glorious Empire / Mr. P. K. Siu / Ed Walker
Grand Arch / Jim and Susan Hill / Brian Lynch
Jallota / Mrs. Fitri Hay / Charles Hills
Long Island Sound / D. Smith, Mrs. J. Magnier, Mrs. M. Tabor & J. Allen LLC / Aidan O’Brien
Miss Temple City / The Club Racing LLC, Needle In A Haystack, Sagamore / Graham Motion
Mondialiste / Geoff and Sandra Turnbull / David O’Meara
Mr. Owen / Qatar Racing Limited / Francois Rohaut
Mutakayyef / Shadwell Stable / William J. Haggas
Obviously / Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino / Philip D’Amato
Offering Plan / M. Dubb, Nantucket Thoroughbred Partners, Bethlehem Stables et al / Chad Brown
Passion for Action / Benjamin Hutzel / Mike DePaulo
Solemn Tribute / Lael Stables / Brian Lynch
Stacked Deck / Bruce Lunsford / Barb Minshall
Surgical Strike / Edward Seltzer and Beverly Anderson / Ben Colebrook
Takeover Target / Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence / Chad Brown
Tepin / Robert E. Masterson / Mark Casse
Tower of Texas / Thomas F. Van Meter II and Scott Dilworth / Roger Attfield
World Approval / Live Oak Plantation / Mark Casse
Yorker / The Yorker Partnership / William J. Haggas