On the rebound: Champion Tepin in good order day after First Lady upset

Photo Call and jockey Kent Desormeaux defeat champion Tepin in the Grade I First Lady at Keeneland Race Course on Saturday, October 8, 2016. The loss ended an eight-race win streak for Tepin.
Photo Call and jockey Kent Desormeaux defeat champion Tepin in the Grade I First Lady at Keeneland Race Course on Saturday, October 8, 2016. The loss ended an eight-race win streak for Tepin.

With a new day often comes fresh perspective. While the end result of Saturday’s Grade I First Lady Stakes at Keeneland was a disappointment for trainer Mark Casse’s barn, the end game for champion turf female Tepin is one her team has lost zero confidence in.

The morning after the 5-year-old daughter of Bernstein ran second to longshot Photo Call in the First Lady – ending her eight-race winning streak – the sting of her defeat was eased by how well she had bounced out of the effort Sunday. With a title defense in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 5 the main target, Saturday’s eight-furlong test was supposed to be a springboard towards getting the bay mare to peak four weeks from now.

In that respect, assistant trainer Norman Casse is viewing Saturday’s effort as mission accomplished.

“She looks really good this morning, I think we all feel a lot better today,” said Casse, son of Mark Casse. “I just think it stung a little bit yesterday but, going forward, we got exactly what we wanted out of the race other than winning. I think we’re sitting on a really big effort come Breeders’ Cup.

“She doesn’t owe us anything and…I’m never, ever going to be disappointed in her. I think we came in with the intention of this kind of being a set up race for the Breeders’ Cup and that’s exactly what we got. It stings a bit, you always want to win. But the main goal is still in front of us.”

Photo Call ran a brave race on the front end, getting out to a 10-length lead at one point and having more than enough to hold off Tepin’s determined run. A decision on whether Photo Call will go on to the Breeders’ Cup is still being decided.

In a year that has seen Tepin win three top-level races in three countries, including becoming the first U.S.-based horse to win the Group I Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 14, a repeat Mile win would only further a reputation that is already cemented as one of racing’s best.

“At this point I feel like we’re playing with house money,” Casse said. “She won Royal Ascot, she won the Breeders’ Cup, I think she’s sure-fire Hall of Fame. Her legacy is set.”

Helping to further buoy the mood at the Casse barn were the exploits of John Oxley’s Classic Empire, winner of the Grade I Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Saturday. The colt’s three-length triumph was one Norman Casse deemed most satisfying considering the work it took to get the son of Pioneerof the Nile back on track after his outing in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga on September 5 when he wheeled out of the gate and unseated jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.

“That (the Breeders’ Futurity) was probably the most rewarding race, other than the Breeders’ Cups and Royal Ascot,” Casse said. “We were super, super disappointed after the Saratoga debacle. As we watched him cool out after that, we came up with a game plan of how we were going to win the Breeders’ Futurity. We thought it was a realistic plan, and we executed it and he executed the race yesterday the way he was supposed. It was very, very rewarding.”

Shadwell heroine Miss Temple City on track for Breeders’ Cup

After having her way with male rivals on Saturday during her victory in the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, Graham Motion-trainee Miss Temple City is now poised for a trip to California for the Breeders’ Cup Mile on November 5.

“I think we have to,” Motion said Sunday morning of the Breeders’ Cup venture. “As long as she’s doing well, I would imagine we will be there,”

The 4-year-old daughter of Temple City became the first female runner to sweep both the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland in the spring and the Shadwell Turf Mile with her most recent triumph ending a three-race losing skid. Motion has repeatedly called the dark bay distaffer the best filly he has ever trained and she now figures to knock heads with Tepin for divisional supremacy in the Mile.

“We always thought she was pretty special,” Motion said of his charge. “Some of them surprise you but she always acted like she was going to be very good. She always did things very easily. She’s all business. Like this morning, she is not interested in talking to anyone. She is not an attention seeker but she is very kind. There is no malice with her.”

Miss Temple City came out of her Shadwell triumph “great” according to Motion and was slated to ship back to his base at Fair Hill in Maryland Sunday evening along with Grade I Darley Alcibiades winner Dancing Rags and stablemate Ring Weekend, who ran seventh in the Shadwell.

Catch a Glimpse works towards QEII

Smooth and effortless were the adjectives used to the describe Catch a Glimpse as the 2015 Canadian Horse of the Year zipped through a four-furlong move in :49 over the Keeneland turf course Sunday, her final major work in advance of the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on October 15.

With exercise rider E. J. Bowler in the irons, the 3-year-old daughter of City Zip covered the opening quarter in :25 3/5 and continued through the lane with ease, getting her lead changes without issue and galloping out in energetic fashion.

Since joining Casse’s team this March, assistant trainer David Carroll has been the main caretaker of Catch a Glimpse when she is in Kentucky but Sunday’s move marked the first time he had seen her work over the turf.

“All her breezes in the spring here were on the dirt so I’ve actually never seen her breeze on the turf and she was just so smooth,” Carroll beamed. “I was very impressed with the way she moved. We’re going into the race here firing on all cylinders. She’s doing great and now we’ve got that breeze out of the way. Hopefully, we’ll have a good week and look forward to the Queen Elizabeth II.”

Alicia Wincze Hughes: 859-231-1676, @horseracinghl