In what was unquestionably one of the most breathtaking performances by any horse in the U.S. this year, the talented filly Tepin posted a resounding victory in the $400,000 First Lady Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland on October 3rd, stamping herself as a contender for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I) in the process.
Trained by Mark Casse, the four-year-old daughter of Bernstein tracked modest fractions of :24.38, :48.90, and 1:13.69 in the one-mile race before bursting into the lead at the top of the stretch. Drawing away under hand ride from jockey Julien Leparoux, Tepin blazed the seventh furlong in :11.56 and the final furlong in :11.79–absolutely astonishing fractions given the soft conditions of the course–to win by seven lengths while easing up late. Remarkably, her final time of 1:37.04 was 0.41 seconds faster than the talented gelding Grand Arch ran while winning the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. I) later on the card, and Tepin’s faster time was achieved despite much slower early fractions (1:13.69 versus 1:12.27).
Prior to the race, Tepin’s connections had speculated that their star filly might run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile against male horses if she won the First Lady in impressive fashion, and following the race, Casse reaffirmed that this is the plan.
“She’s good today. She went back to Churchill last night,” trainer Mark Casse was quoted as saying in the Keeneland Barn Notes for October 4th. “I think we’ll go to the (Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile). That seems to make the most sense. A mile is better for her than the mile and three-sixteenths of the (Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf). Any time when you run that big, it’s a nice surprise.
“I give a lot of credit to (assistant trainer and son) Norman (Casse) and his crew,” he continued. “They have kept her good. One thing that helps is that (Tepin is) a big, beautiful and powerful horse. People keep asking how many times she can keep throwing a big race after a big race, and even I ask myself that question sometimes.
“What’s amazing is that the more you run her, the more she gets better. She’s a lot like (2014 Canadian Horse of the Year) Lexie Lou in that respect. Yesterday’s race was just powerful and what makes you feel good is that it wasn’t taxing for her. Now we have a month until the Breeders’ Cup.”
In other First Lady news, it was announced that the Aidan O’Brien-trained pair of Outstanding and Easter, who finished fourth and eighth behind Tepin, will both be retired and sent to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky. According to the Keeneland Barn Notes, “Easter sustained a ‘little fracture’ and was to be taken to Hagyard Equine Medical Institute before going to Ashford.”