Tepin, Mondialiste could meet in Woodbine Mile

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September 4th, 2016

The September 17 Woodbine Mile (G1) could serve up another clash between champion turf mare Tepin and defending champion Mondialiste, judging by the nominations for the C$1 million “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).

Tepin has beaten Mondialiste in both of their prior meetings, when capturing last year’s BC Mile at Keeneland and the June 14 Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot in her latest. But the well-bred son of Galileo didn’t have a clear passage en route to his fast-finishing second in the Mile, and he hadn’t yet come to himself when a no-show 11th in the Queen Anne.

Mondialiste has since reached top form, renewing his love affair with North America by getting up in the August 13 Arlington Million (G1). Woodbine obviously suits him well, and the David O’Meara trainee may offer more of a challenge to Tepin third time around.

Yet Tepin isn’t called “The Queen” for nothing, with a seven-race winning spree in tow. Her early speed also ensures she’ll have the tactical upper hand over late runners like Mondialiste.

Trainer Mark Casse wisely let her skip Saratoga after she felt the effects of the summer heat, and Tepin has responded by perking up in her recent works.

"She's on her game right now. She's been working very well," Casse told Woodbine publicity. "She really likes the fall, when the weather gets a little cooler. You can see her attitude change. Right now, she's doing extremely well."

Casse reflected upon Tepin’s rise to fame, and looked ahead to her return in the Woodbine Mile.

"I think she made herself known as a good horse when she won the Just a Game (G1) at Belmont (in June 2015) and established herself as a great horse when she won the First Lady (G1) at Keeneland in the fall before the Breeders' Cup. But she made herself one of the greatest of all time when she won at Royal Ascot.

"Every time she runs its nerve-wracking. Was I more nervous at Ascot?  I was a little nervous because there were so many unknown factors, but I'll probably be more nervous for her running at Woodbine, because she's expected to win.

"There were so many things going against her at Royal Ascot that if she had gotten beat it would have been a little easier to understand. But, she's expected to win at Woodbine. She'll be coming off a long layoff for the Woodbine Mile and we haven't often had this much time between races. However, there won't be any excuses at Woodbine, so I'll be nervous.

"I've seen a lot of good horses go there (to Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor turf course) and not run well. So, it’s a concern, but honestly she's handled everything thrown at her and her ability to handle Ascot the way she did leads me to believe there should be no issues at Woodbine.

"Woodbine, and Toronto, has been our second home so to be able to bring a filly like Tepin to Woodbine and win of the biggest races would make me very proud.

"They're going to have a chance to see one of the greatest turf race mares of all time," Casse concluded.

There’s a pronounced international flavor to the Woodbine Mile nominations, with the William Haggas-trained Mutakayyef and Yorker, Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Arod, Charlie Hills’ Dutch Connection and Jallota, Aidan O’Brien’s Cougar Mountain and Long Island Sound, Francis Rohaut’s Mr. Owen (sixth here last year as a sophomore), David Simcock’s Dragon Mall, and Ed Walker’s Glorious Empire on the 30-strong list.

Prominent U.S.-based nominees include Obviously, third in the 2015 Woodbine Mile; Breeders’ Cup Mile third Grand Arch; Miss Temple City; Takeover Target; Dimension; and Casse’s World Approval, who’s likelier to stick to longer trips, as his Northern Dancer Turf (G1) nomination implies.

Turning to those nominations for Woodbine’s four other graded turf stakes on Mile weekend:

Five European-based horses are possible for the 1 1/2-mile Northern Dancer Turf, worth C$300,000, on the Woodbine Mile undercard. The Aga Khan’s Dariyan would be a fascinating contender for Alain de Royer-Dupre. O’Brien has made both Highland Reel and Sir Isaac Newton eligible, but Highland Reel could well contest next Saturday’s Irish Champion (G1) before jetting off to Australia. Other international nominees are Majeed from the Simcock yard and Nicolas Clement’s Now We Can.

Only two internationals have nibbled at the C$300,000 Canadian (G2), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) – David Smaga’s Steip Amach and Muffri’Ha from the Haggas yard.

With the Woodbine Mile card on the Saturday, the two juvenile turf stakes have been switched to Sunday, September 18. The Summer (G2) and Natalma (G2), each at a mile, are “Win and You’re In” events for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), respectively.

Wesley Ward has nominated fillies Con Te Partiro and Red Lodge to both the C$250,000 Natalma in their own division as well as the C$200,000 Summer against the boys.

The only internationally trained candidate is Cavale Doree, a Natalma nominee who scored in the August 20 Prix du Calvados (G3) for Christophe Ferland. According to the nominations, Martin Schwartz has since purchased her. Cavale Doree still holds an engagement at home, however, in the October 2 Prix Marcel Boussac (G1).

Although no currently European-based juvenile is eligible for the Summer, Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher have nominated their respective new recruits, Boyfriend Brian (second to O’Brien’s useful Capri in the Canford Cliffs at Tipperary) and Gift Banda (Bellewstown maiden winner).

We’ll revisit the international contingent once it comes into sharper focus.

Photo courtesy Keeneland/Coady Photography