Reigning champion turf female Tepin will start in the Grade I, $400,000 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland on October 8, assistant trainer Norman Casse confirmed to the Herald-Leader Saturday evening.
Both the First Lady Stakes and Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile, also at Keeneland on October 8, had been under consideration to serve as Tepin’s final prep before her expected title defense in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita Park on November 5. With the Shadwell slated to lure some tough male rivals, the decision was made to keep the 5-year-old daughter of Bernstein against her own sex in the First Lady Stakes, which is also contested over eight furlongs.
“The goal is to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile and we feel like the best way to do that is give her what would be an easier race,” said Casse, son and top assistant to his father, trainer Mark Casse. “It’s still a Grade I at Keeneland, it’s not going to be a walk-over. But the Shadwell is coming up a little tough.
“Her best races have always been after having an easier race before. So the goal is to win the Breeders’ Cup and we think that’s the best way to do it.”
Tepin has already used the First Lady as a wildly successful steppingstone once, capturing the contest by seven lengths last year en route to winning the Breeders’ Cup Mile over males last October.
This season has seen the bay mare continue to cement her status as the best turf miler of either sex. Her win over males in the Grade I Woodbine Mile on September 17 marked her eighth consecutive victory, a streak that includes her historic win in the Group I Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 14.
Bred by Machmer Hall and owned by Robert Masterson, Tepin has won 13 of 21 career starts including six Grade/Group I wins with $4,017,918 in earnings.
Per Keeneland, other probables for the First Lady stakes included Cash Control, Celestine, Miss Temple City, Nemoralia, Now Or Never, Onus, Secret Someone, and She’s Not Here.