USA: Tepin treading familiar path to Breeders’ Cup

Tepin: Bids to defend First Lady crown before Breeders' Cup

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker ( Tepin treading familiar path to Breeders' Cup By Nicholas Godfrey 7:01AM 8 OCT 2016

Preview: USA, Saturday 9.35pm BST (live on ATR

Keeneland: First Lady Stakes (Grade 1) 1m, turf, 3yo+ f/m

ROYAL ASCOT winner Tepin (Mark Casse/Julien Leparoux) is following a tried-and-tested path back to the Breeders' Cup as she has her final prep race in the First Lady Stakes, one of seven Grade 1s shown live on At The Races on another star-studded US Saturday programme.

After trouncing her rivals in last year's race, America's 'Queen of the Turf' beat the boys a month later in the Breeders' Cup Mile, where the runner-up was the David O'Meara-trained Mondialiste, who also runs on tonight's card in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile as he tries to add another lucrative US pot to his haul after his Arlington Million success.

Tepin, who has now won 11 of her last 13 starts dating back two years, will face a couple of European opponents, however, in the shape of Coronation Stakes runner-up Nemoralia and Irish-trained Now Or Never.

Tepin's trainer Mark Casse explained the decision to keep the five-year-old among the females for her final start before she defends her Breeders' Cup crown at Santa Anita on November 5. "Our feeling was it would be better to run her against fillies and hopefully get a little easier race this time out, and it should set her up nicer for the Breeders' Cup," said Casse, speaking to the Blood-Horse.

"That being said, I'm not saying that the fillies are easy to beat either. There are some really good fillies in there, but we just thought it would be a little easier."

On her first start since a memorable triumph in the Queen Anne Stakes, Tepin won cosily three weeks ago in the $1m Woodbine Mile.

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Seeking her ninth win in succession, she is drawn in gate two in a ten-runner field where rivals include Newmarket visitor Nemoralia (Jeremy Noseda/Joe Bravo) – out to atone for a Doncaster flop – and Qatar Racing's Now Or Never (Michael O'Callaghan/Luis Saez), a couple of places behind Nemoralia at Royal Ascot.

Nemoralia will be carrying new colours as she has been sold to owner Peter Brant. "She's going great but we face a big problem called Tepin," said Noseda. "She stays with me until after the Breeders Cup where she will run after this."

A strong-looking field also features Celestine (Bill Mott/Junior Alvarado), making her first start since scoring in Grade 1 company at Belmont in June.

Also on Saturday

Belmont Park: Flower Bowl Stakes (Grade 1) 1m2f, turf, 3yo+ f/m (8.03pm BST, live on ATR)

Having battled back from more than a year on the sidelines with a life-threatening bout of laminitis after she stepped on a nail, Breeders' Cup winner Lady Eli (Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz) makes her second start of her comeback in this $500,000 contest. Although forfeiting her unbeaten record, in the circumstances she was a good second on her comeback at Saratoga.

Her stablemate Sea Calisi (Florent Geroux), the Beverly D Stakes winner, looks a formidable opponent in a $500,000 contest also featuring Prix Jean Romanet runner-up Ame Bleue (Andre Fabre/Olivier Peslier).

Keeneland: Woodford Stakes (Grade 3) 5½f, turf, 3yo+

A couple of familiar names here in Undrafted (Wesley Ward/Joe Bravo) and last year's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winnerMongolian Saturday (Enebish Ganbat/Carlos Montalvo), who both ran in Britain over the summer.

Mongolian Saturday hasn't run since being unplaced in the July Cup, while Undrafted – winner of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2015 – returned to US action last month at Kentucky Downs.

Keeneland: Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (Grade 2) 6f, dirt, 3yo+ (9pm BST, live on ATR)

British expat rider Sophie Doyle bids to repeat last year's victory on Fioretti (Anthony Hamilton).

Belmont Park: Jockey Club Gold Cup (Grade 1) 1m2f, dirt, 3yo+ (10.23pm BST, live on ATR)

A six-runner field for New York's most prestigious all-aged contest, headed by Effinex (Jimmy Jerkens/Mike Smith), third last year before chasing home American Pharoah in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Other notables in the $1m event include Dubai World Cup second Mubtaahij (Kiaran McLaughlin/Irad Ortiz), close behind Shaman Ghost in the Woodward, and west-coast visitor Hoppertunity (Bob Baffert/John Velazquez).

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