Robert Masterson’s Tepin, the reigning champion turf female, will bypass the Grade I Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga Race Course on August 13 and is now possible for the Grade II Ballston Spa on August 27, trainer Mark Casse said Friday morning.
The one-mile Fourstardave was slated to be Tepin’s first start since she bested males and became the first U.S.-based horse to win the Group I Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 14. After breezing four furlongs in 50.42 over the Saratoga turf on July 22, Casse said the 5-year-old daughter of Bernstein had ‘a couple of blah days’ this week and they have opted not to work her as planned this weekend.
“We said all along that everything had to go perfect for us to (make the Fourstardave),” Casse said from Saratoga. “When we went to Royal Ascot, we never planned on bringing her back that quickly. Then when we got to looking at it we said ‘well, maybe’ but everything had to go right.
“She had a couple blah days this week, enough so that we didn’t get to lead up to this weekend the way we wanted. We had planned on breezing her tomorrow (July 30) which would have been a big work for her. And we just felt she wasn’t ready to do that yet. So now we’ll just kind of sit back and we’re still looking at the Ballston Spa.”
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Casse has said previously that Tepin does not handle heat that well. With the warm temperatures in the region this week, the multiple Sovereign Award-winning conditioner said that could be a factor in what is affecting the defending Breeders’ Cup Mile heroine.
“You know, it was pretty warm,” Casse said. “She’s so laid back and when she doesn’t want to come to the front of the stall to eat her mints and stuff, that’s not her.”
Casse added that the Grade I Woodbine Mile on September 17 remains a main target for Tepin.
“If there is a way to get there, that is a big target,” Casse said. “In the beginning, we never even planned on the Ballston Spa, then we put that on the map. There could be a possibility if we pass the Ballston Spa that we got right into the Mile.”
Should Tepin start in the Ballston Spa, she is likely to face unbeaten Grade I winner Lady Eli, who is looking at the 1 1/16-miles race as her comeback spot following a remarkable recovery from laminitis. In addition to serving as a potential showdown between two of the top female turf distaffers, the Ballston Spa could give Tepin a chance to avenge one of her two defeats from 2015.
The Machmer Hall-bred mare was second, beaten just a head by Dacita in last year’s Ballston Spa. That narrow defeat came on the heels of a prior gut-wrenching loss as she was beaten just a nose by Hard Not to Like in the Grade I Diana at Saratoga last July 25.
Since her loss in last year’s Ballston Spa, Tepin has reeled off seven straight wins including victories in the Grade I First Lady Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland last October and the Grade I Jenny Wiley Stakes over the 1 1/16-miles distance this April. The bay mare has won 12 of 20 career outings with earnings of $3,563,838.