Champion Tepin will bypass the Grade II, $400,000 Ballston Spa at Saratoga on Aug. 27 and instead point for another meeting against male counterparts in the Grade I Woodbine Mile on Sept. 17, trainer Mark Casse confirmed Tuesday.
Casse and owner Robert Masterson had considered the 1 1/16 -mile Ballston Spa as a backup plan for Tepin after deciding to skip the Grade I Fourstardave Handicap this coming Saturday when Casse was unsatisfied with how the reigning champion turf female was training. Though the 5-year-old daughter of Bernstein is slated to resume breezing at Saratoga in the coming days, her connections are planning to ship her back to Kentucky in the next couple weeks to prepare for the Woodbine Mile in what would be her first start since besting an international field of male challengers in the Group I Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 14.
“What we’ll do is we’ll breeze her a few times and she’ll go down to Churchill with (son and top assistant trainer) Norman (Casse) to get ready there,” Mark Casse said. “I wouldn’t want to ship her (to Churchill) without Norman being there but it’s still so warm there, I want to let it get a little cooler in Kentucky. But if all goes well she’s going to breeze this weekend.”
Casse has stated that Tepin doesn’t fare as well in hot temperatures, and the muggy conditions of Saratoga have not played to her favor. Cementing the decision to sit and wait for Woodbine is the fact that jockey Julien Leparoux, Tepin’s regular rider, is sidelined for 3-4 weeks with a wrist fracture.
“Norman and Mr. Masterson and I talked about (the Ballston Spa) and we were already saying well, maybe it’s not the right thing to do,” Casse said. “Then Julien got hurt. The way we understand it, he will be back (in time for Woodbine), yes. Maybe it was all meant to be.
“As I’ve always said, Tepin is the boss. We all listen.”
Should Tepin make her expected appearance at Woodbine, she will aim to give Casse — who was inducted into the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame this week — his first win in the Toronto track’s signature turf test.
Tepin has won seven straight since losing the 2015 Ballston Spa in a headbob to Dacita. Her win over males in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland last October capped her championship campaign, and the bay mare has prevailed in all five of her starts in 2016 including the Grade I Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland on April 16.
Bred by Machmer Hall, Tepin has won 12 of 20 careers starts with earnings of $3,563,838.