Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile is a marquee turf event on top of a huge card of action. And despite plenty of champions and would be champions at the race track near Toronto all eyes are on 5 year old mare Tepin. Most concede that she’s the best turf horse in the world at the moment which makes her the ‘horse to beat’ in the Woodbine Mile. She’s been on an impressive roll over the past year plus but there’s one big question about Saturday’s race–her three month layoff since her last race.
Her connections–owner Robert Masterson and trainer Mark Casse–gave her a really challenge with her most recent start. Tepin shipped to England in June for the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal Ascot meet. She was off Lesix and didn’t like the soft ground at the Royal Ascot course but she still managed to win by a half length in a gutsy effort for her regular jockey, Julien Leparoux. Since then, she’s been back at Saratoga working for most of the summer under the supervision of assistant trainer Norm Casse. He’s guardedly optimistic: “She’s always run well fresh. In that way, I’m confident. Her works were the way that we like them to be. All indicators are she’s ready. I’m cautiously optimistic.”
Tepin has won 7 straight races and 10 of her last 12. Her current run started last October with a win in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland. She really got the attention of the racing world with a win over 11 male horses in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile. She was named the Eclipse Champion Female Turf Horse and she might be setting herself up for a repeat with her performance so far in 2016. She’s won a couple of stakes events at Tampa Bay Downs followed by the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley by five lengths at Keeneland and the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile.
The 20th running of the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile will be contested with a field of eight and is the ‘main event’ on a huge card of racing that also includes the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf, the Grade 2 Canadian, and the Grade 3 Ontario Derby. The Woodbine Mile and Canadian are Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers. The Mile has produced four previous Breeders’ Cup Mile winners, including Wise Dan and Court Vision.