Tepin's smashing run highlights Woodbine Breeders' Cup-bound weekend

Tepin's smashing run highlights Woodbine Breeders' Cup-bound weekend

On Sunday morning, young trainer Norman Casse watched a replay of the barn’s fleet-footed mare, Tepin, winning the $1-million Ricoh Woodbine Mile. He just wanted an assurance that it had really happened.

“So it wasn’t a dream,” he said. “I always do that [watch replays] after big races. Like you wake up and it’s still so surreal. You’ve just got to pinch yourself.”

The Woodbine Mile was Tepin’s eighth consecutive victory, the toughest of them coming against males. She won Saturday on grit. After three months without a race, Casse said she was only 90 per cent fit. “That last eighth or sixteenth of a mile, it was all her [heart],” he said.

Tepin increased her career earnings to about $4-million (U.S.), and the Woodbine Mile, as a Breeders’ Cup Win-and-You’re-In race, means she earned an expenses-paid trip to defend her Turf Mile crown at Santa Anita in California. The Breeders’ Cup takes place on Nov. 4 and 5.

Tepin came out of her first race in Canada a little tired, but sound and happy - “She’ll move forward off that race,” said Norm Casse.

The Casse Stable also won another of the four Win-and-You’re-In races over the weekend at Woodbine. Casse scored with Victory to Victory in the $250,000 Natalma Stakes, winning by 2 ½ lengths at odds of almost 8 to 1.

Casse had entered four fillies altogether. The others finished fourth, seventh and  last of 14.

“We always knew she was a good horse from the very beginning,” Norm Casse said of Victory to Victory. “She was a little disappointing her first two starts, to be honest. But we decided to put the blinkers on her and I think it made a big difference.” The Natalma was Victory to Victory’s first win. Casse’s father, Mark, has won the Natalma a record seven times.

Victory to Victory now has a spot in the Breeders Cup' Juvenile Fillies Turf race. 

Norm Casse said the stable has a handful of Breeders’ Cup possibilities but it’s too early to pencil them in. “We’ve still got more left in the chamber.”

Casse’s Conquest Fahrenheit finished second in the $200,000 Summer Stakes – and missed out on a spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf – but Norm Casse thinks he’ll improve off that race, won by Good Samaritan, trained by U.S. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

Mott wasn’t at Woodbine yesterday, but his son, Riley, was. “Ever since I could tie my shoes, I have worked with him [Bill] all my life,” Riley said.

Good Samaritan, an ebullient 2-year-old colt, is now also on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf list. Riley Mott didn’t immediately commit to it, saying they’d meet with the owners first, but the expenses-paid trip is irresistible.

Good Samaritan is the first winner that the Mott Stable has trained for the China Horse Club, which has been spending millions of dollars over the past couple of seasons, buying up well-bred yearlings in the United States. “They are a group based in China,” Riley Mott said. “It’s a racing club. You buy into it. It’s a lifestyle promotional club.”

The China Horse Club has teamed up with Kentucky breeder WinStar, which also owns part of Good Samaritan. “I would expect them to be quite a powerful force in years to come for sure,” Riley said. Good Samaritan won his first start at Saratoga a month ago. Mott says the win in the Summer Stakes puts the colt in an exclusive group.

U.S.-owned Rainha Da Bateria won the $300,000 Canadian Stakes on Saturday, also earning a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.