Casse targets another Mile high
The view from connections ahead of Tepin's bid for repeat success in the Breeders' Cup Mile.
Tepin and Julien Leparoux beat Belardo to win the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier this year.
Tepin aims to join an elite club of multiple winners of the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Saturday after a surprise defeat last time out.
Trained in North America by Mark Casse, the mare was an easy winner of the race 12 months ago and her star has been on the rise ever since.
Adventurous owner Robert Masterman gained plenty of new friends just by even running her at Royal Ascot, but the fact she was able to win the Queen Anne on soft ground marked her down as the best miler in the world.
That made her staying-on defeat to Photo Call in the First Lady even more of a surprise and connections insist jockey Julien Leparoux will not make the same mistake twice.
"Coming into this week I've been delighted with her," said Casse.
"She loves to train at Churchill Downs, but it is so hot there in summer that we have to get her ready at Saratoga and she doesn't like it there.
"I think she just tolerates the every-day training at Saratoga, without being enthusiastic about it, and it was noticeable that when she shipped back to Churchill and did some work, I didn't recognise it was the same filly.
"She was so much more impressive."
Masterson said: "We like what she's doing and she's ready to do it again, but it's a big field and you've got to stay out of trouble. If she gets the right position I think she'll do very well.
"We're not scared of the Europeans, actually there's a couple of good American horses in there, also.
"I just think it's a question of who gets a good trip and who stays out of trouble.
"The best three or four horses will probably fill those positions."
"Of course we were upset as we'd like to see her win, but it was one of those things.
"The other horse (Photo Call) ran a great race but Tepin let her get too far in front and it won't happen again.
"I think Limato is a very good horse but it's a question of if her gets two turns (a mile). The last time he tried I believe he finished fourth, looking like he couldn't get it.
"If he's ready to get two turns I think he'll be very tough because geldings usually are.
"If Tepin brings her race like last year's Breeders' Cup or even the Queen Anne, when she despised the ground, she'll be tough to beat, but it's racing, anyone can win."
Limato has been one of the stars of the sprinting division for the past two seasons and his July Cup win and success in the Prix de la Foret over seven furlongs were as good as anything seen all summer.
However, he was fourth in the one-mile Lockinge on his reappearance in May, when some suggested his stamina ran out, but trainer Henry Candy feels there were other factors to blame.
He said: "I think a mile round there would suit him absolutely ideal. I've always thought he'd get a mile.
"It was a great shame the Lockinge was run on sticky ground and our horses were out of form at the time.
"Everything was against him on that occasion and he ran really well.
"I would have loved to run him in the Queen Anne but the ground was against us so we went down another route, then he was quite dramatic in both the July Cup and the Foret.
"Obviously Tepin is the one to beat on the book, but I just saw Aidan O'Brien's mare Alice Springs and she looks absolutely fantastic.
"This is as big an occasion as it gets and we're all very excited.
"It's completely different to European racing, but Limato has got a huge amount of speed and is very intelligent.
"Limato is probably the best horse I've ever trained and that's what you need out here.
"I'm very happy with the way he is."
Charlie Hills has always thought this is the race which would play to Dutch Connection's strengths but he has done all his winning over seven furlongs.
"I've probably muddled him a bit with the trip," said Hills.
"It didn't help that I dropped him back to six and a half furlongs (fifth in the Prix Maurice de Gheest), but at the time it looked at winnable race.
"He was a bit keen the race after and they just went no pace at all. He was caught on the outside and you knew after a furlong what was going to happen."
Aidan O'Brien runs Hit It A Bomb, triumphant in the Juvenile Turf 12 months ago but winless this season, and the high-class filly Alice Springs.
"Hit It A Bomb is in good order, he just had a setback in the spring and didn't get started until late but since then he's been progressing with every run," said O'Brien.
"Ascot probably didn't suit him the last day but he's good around a bend and the fast ground will suit him well.
"He's drawn badly (12) so I'd imagine Seamus (Heffernan) will take his time with him but he could come with a run. In our part of the world the races tend not to be run to suit him."
He added: "I'm looking forward to Alice. She's been progressive and loves the fast ground.
"It's a good race but with every run she's getting quicker and better. She's a strong traveller. She goes there very strong so it should be interesting."
German trainer Markus Munch is quietly confident his filly Spectre can rise to the occasion.
The four-year-old has solid form to bring to the table and was a late withdrawal from the Prix de la Foret, won by Limato.
Munch said: "She is improving all the time, she has a great heart and never seems to know when she is beaten.
"Whatever happens here she will remain in training next season."
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