USA: Churchill rivals unable to trouble star mare Tepin


Tepin: could run in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot next month

  PICTURE: Matt Wooley/EquiSport Photos.  

Preview: USA, Saturday 6.13pm BST (live on ATR)
Churchill Downs: Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (Grade 2) 1m, turf, 4yo+ f/m

ANYTHING other than another straightforward victory against seemingly overmatched rivals will be regarded as a major shock as brilliant racemare Tepin (Mark Casse/Julien Leparoux) has her final race before a proposed visit to Royal Ascot at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

The five-year-old is a 1-4 shot with Ladbrokes as she bids to repeat last year’s victory in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile, one of the highlights on an excellent Kentucky Derby undercard.

An Eclipse Award winner last year after her memorable Breeders’ Cup Mile success, Tepin has now won eight of her last ten starts; indeed, but for a nose and a head, she would have gone unbeaten in seven in 2015, and she has barely been extended in winning three more this term, notably a stakes-record performance last month at Keeneland in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes.

Unsurprisingly, she tops the Royal Ascot wish list this summer, when the Queen Anne Stakes offers a probable target.

“She’s doing as well as she normally does,” said assistant trainer Norman Casse, speaking to the Blood-Horse. “We just take it easy with her between starts and let the races get her ready. We’re very happy with the way she’s prepared for the race, and excited because Churchill has always been her home.

“This is the site of where she became Tepin, and our hometown track, and on the biggest day of the year in horse racing, we’re proud to showcase the best horse we’ve ever trained.”

Likely second favourite is free-running Grade 2 winner Isabella Sings (Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez), run down by Tepin on her most recent outing after establishing a big lead in a Grade 3 at Tampa.

Ladbrokes: 1-4 Tepin, 9-2 Isabella Sings, 16 Rainha Da Barteria, 25 Cash Control, 33 Zipessa, 40 bar

Also on Saturday

Churchill Downs: Churchill Downs Stakes (Grade 2) 7f, dirt, 4yo+ (6.55pm BST, live on ATR)

Late-running sprinter Salutos Amigos (David Jacobson/Cornelio Velasquez) faces arguably a stiffer field in this $500,000 contest than he did last month when beating Calculator (Peter Miller/Junior Alvarado) by a head in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.

Rivals are headed by top west-coast sprinter Kobe’s Back (Peter Eurton/Gary Stevens), who beat him by a half-length over 6f at Santa Anita in February. The unbeaten Speightster (Bill Mott/Jose Lezcano) is a fascinating contender as he cuts back in trip after a layoff following his victory in last year’s Dwyer Stakes.

Churchill Downs: Humana Distaff (Grade 1) 7f, dirt, 4yo+ f/m (7.45pm BST, live on ATR)

The Breeders’ Cup Filly Mare Sprint looks the key race here as the winner Wavell Avenue (Chad Brown/Joel Rosario) is reopposed by Coolmore’s Taris (Simon Callaghan/Flavien Prat) and Stonetastic (Kelly Breen/Paco Lopez), who were third and eighth in that championship contest.

A good third on her reappearance in the Grade 1 Madison, Wavell Avenue breaks from the outside post in a ten-runner field, while Taris has been showing up nicely since moving to southern California and now cuts back to what is probably her favoured trip.

Another to note is Birdatthewire (Dale Romans/Mike Smith), who won the Grade 1 La Brea at this specialist distance in December.

Ladbrokes: 9-4 Taris, 3 Wavell Avenue, 10-3 Stonetastic, 7 Birdatthewire, 12 Enchanting Lady, 16 bar

Churchill Downs: American Turf Stakes (Grade 2) 1m1/2f, turf, 3yo (8.35pm BST, live on ATR)

After disappointing on dirt, Airoforce (Mark Casse/Julien Leparoux) gets back on the turf, the surface on which he finished second at the Breeders’ Cup. He will need to overcome a rails draw in a double-figure field, however.

Churchill Downs: Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (Grade 1) 1m1f, turf, 4yo+ (10.25pm BST, live on ATR)

Veteran turf star Big Blue Kitten (Chad Brown/Joe Bravo), for so long towards the top end of the US turf ladder, kicks off his eight-year-old campaign in this $500,000 contest. He added two more Grade 1 wins to his CV last term before coming third – best of the home team – in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Chief rival in another double-figure field may be his Chad Brown-trained stablemate Slumber (Irad Ortiz), a half-length behind Big Blue Kitten at the Breeders’ Cup.

Ladbrokes: 11-4 Big Blue Kitten, 9-2 Slumber, 6 Bolo, Tourist, 12 Divisidero, Grand Tito, Triple Threat, 16 Midnight Storm, Reporting Star, 20 bar


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