Trainer Mark Casse was breathless Tuesday morning. After spending the morning on the Saratoga backside overseeing his shedrow, his wife then talked him into taking a lengthy stroll at a local park “so I’ve probably gone about 5 miles already” the Canadian Hall of Fame conditioner said during his jaunt.
It wasn’t just his morning cardio that took Casse’s air away for positive reasons, however. In a sizzling move on the Saratoga turf training course, champion turf female Tepin signaled her readiness for the Grade I Woodbine Mile on Sept. 17 when she drilled 4 furlongs in :47.04 working in company with stablemate Airoforce.
The move was just the third work for Tepin since becoming the first U.S. based-horse to win the Group I Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 14. While the daughter of Bernstein is not always known for showing her cards in the morning, Tuesday’s move was a definitive sign that she has recovered from some lackluster training days at Saratoga and is back on the muscle.
“The first couple times she breezed (at Saratoga) it was less than inspiring but ... they saw the real Tepin today,” Casse said. “It was a perfect work. We worked Airoforce, who is getting ready for the Dueling Grounds Derby (at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 11), and they went head and head. You just couldn’t ask for a better work.
“I was telling (owner Robert) Masterson, you knew Tepin was going to work good because you could tell by her attitude even in the shedrow. It was a crisp morning this morning and, what a difference that makes. (Jockey) Florent (Geroux) was on her last week and was on her again today and he said ‘I knew once I got on her, once I started backing her up and turned her around, she was different today.’”
In addition to seeing his top charge look like her usual self Tuesday, Casse said he got further good news when he was informed that Tepin’s regular rider, Julien Leparoux, who has been sidelined since Aug. 7 with a wrist fracture, could start getting on horses next week and is expected to be ready for the Woodbine Mile.
Owned by Masterson and bred by Machmer Hall, Tepin has won seven straight races since losing the Grade II Ballston Spa at Saratoga last summer with her Queen Anne triumph stamping her as arguably the best turf miler of either gender in the world. Should the 5-year-old mare remain on course for the Woodbine Mile, she would be attempting to give Casse his first win in Canada’s preeminent grass race.
Casse said there a chance Tepin could remain at Saratoga to train up to the Woodbine Mile to take advantage of the cooler mornings that are now rolling in there.
“We kind of feel like ... we’ve kind of got her where we want her now, why mess with that,” Casse said.
Tepin has won 12 of 20 career starts, including her triumph over males in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile to cement her Eclipse Award-winning campaign, and has earnings of $3,563,838.