Canada: Queen of the turf Tepin too good in Toronto
Tepin: could head to Keeneland before the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita
PICTURE: EquiSport Photos/Jessie Holmes
Queen of the turf Tepin too good in Toronto By Nicholas Godfrey 11:53PM 17 SEP 2016
Report: Canada, Saturday
Woodbine (Toronto): Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Grade 1) 1m, turf, 3yo+
ROYAL ASCOT winner Tepin (Mark Casse/Julien Leparoux) extended her winning sequence to eight races with a cosy-but-decisive victory on her return to North American action in the $1 million Woodbine Mile.
After racing in the perfect position just off the pace in fourth, the formidable five-year-old took command at the head of the stretch before comfortably holding the late run of locally trained longshot Tower Of Texas by a cosy half-length. But for a head and a neck, Tepin's unbeaten run would now stretch back two years and 13 races; she stopped the clock in 1m.34.13s.
The William Haggas-trained Mutakayyef, who was ridden by Dane O'Neill, did best of three European visitors in third without really landing a glove on the odds-on favourite, despite looking a danger a furlong out before his challenge stalled and he was nipped for second by a neck.
Perhaps the rain-softened ground didn't help him on a track rated 'good'; he looked as if a longer trip would suit him better in North America. Fellow British visitor Arod was fifth.
O'Neill said: "We could have done with a stronger pace but we'd never have beaten the filly. If one or two things had gone in our favour I think we definitely could have been second."
Sent off a fraction short of 1-2, Tepin may not have been spectacular but this was a solid display on her return to domestic action after a three-month layoff following her famous victory in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.
Leparoux said: "She got a little tired; she's been off for three months. From this race, she's going to get better later in the year. I knew they were not going to give me the race easy, but we had a good post and I could do whatever I wanted."
Owner Bob Masterson's daughter of Bernstein, who has won 13 of her 21 career starts, may reappear at Keeneland next month before defending her Breeders' Cup Mile crown at Santa Anita on November 5.
Masterson said: "She's won three Grade 1s at Keeneland. She likes to run. We're better off running than working her. It's a long time before the Breeders' Cup."
Mutakayyef's jockey Dane O'Neill was philosophical in defeat. "We could have done with a stronger pace but we'd never have beaten the filly," he said. "If one or two things had gone in our favour I think we definitely could have been second."
Royal Ascot representative Nick Smith was also on hand. "I last visited Woodbine the year Wise Dan won the Ricoh Mile and thought that this year, in the context of Tepin running at Royal Ascot and that being newsworthy here, it would be a good time to revisit Canada," he explained.
"Importantly the North American audience needed to see that the trip to Europe hasn't left any scars on Tepin, and the connections continue to talk enthusiastically about their visit.
"Of course we hope Royal Ascot will come back on the agenda next year. Bat Masterson is very keen on records and no horse has won two Queen Annes since it became Group 1 but this trip was about sowing some new seeds too."
Also on Saturday
Woodbine (Toronto): Northern Dancer Turf (Grade 1) 1m4f, turf, 3yo+
Last year's Arlington Million winner The Pizza Man (Roger Brueggemann/Flavien Prat) landed another big prize when getting the best of a three-way finish from fellow Grade 1 scorers Wake Forest and World Approval.
On rain-softened turf, Julien Leparoux was able to 'walk the dog' by setting a funereal pace on lone speed horse World Approval, which meant those closest to the front were clearly favoured.
Popular Chicago-based turf veteran The Pizza Man, who stalked the pace throughout, stuck his head between his rivals to score by a neck for his first victory of 2016.
"There was no pace," said Plat. "He was comfortable close to the lead, which was fine for me. I was really happy with the whole trip. When the leader started picking it up heading for home, I thought I couldn't catch him.
"When the horse (Wake Forest) came up on the outside he actually helped me pass the leader."
Unsuited by the moderate fractions, the David Simcock-trained Majeed did well to claim fourth after racing at the rear and being asked to sprint home wide in the stretch.
Woodbine: Canadian Stakes (Grade 2) 1m1f, turf, 3yo+ f/m
A one-two for North America's leading turf trainer Chad Brown, but not in the expected order as 9-2 chance Rainha Da Bateria (Julien Leparoux) just held a late challenge from the favourite Dacita.
French-trained Steip Amach was never a factor, finishing fifth of seven in this $300,000 event, a 'Win and You're In' Race for the Breeders' Cup Challenge, offering a guaranteed start in the Filly & Mare Turf.
Belmont Park (USA): Sands Point Stakes (Grade 2) 1m1f, turf, 3yo fillies
Odds-on favourite On Leave (Shug McGaughey/Irad Ortiz) was left alone in the lead and never looked in danger of defeat after she sprinted to a clear lead in the straight to claim this $500,000 event. Irish-trained Diamond Fields came home nicely to take second place.
Churchill Downs (USA): Iroquois Stakes (Grade 3) 1m½f, dirt, 2yo
A hugely impressive performance from 9-5 favourite Not This Time (Dale Romans/Robby Albarado), a son of Giant's Causeway who powered away from a field full of previous winners to score by nearly nine lengths at a muddy Churchill – and this after messing up the start. Surely the Breeders' Cup Juvenile must be beckoning.
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