Tepin Kicks Royal Ascot Off on Winning Note For America In Queen Anne

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In her last start, Tepin won the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile on Kentucky Derby day (Eclipse Sportswire)

Tepin beat some of Europe's top milers at their own game June 14 at Royal Ascot, scoring a half-length victory in the £340,260 ($480,098) Queen Anne Stakes.

Racing on a straight mile course at Ascot for the first time and competing on soft turf that many of her rivals had more experience with proved little problem for Robert Masterson's Tepin, who defeated 12 rivals—including males.  

Last year's Breeders' Cup Mile winner Tepin, by Bernstein, held off a late charge from two-time Group 1 winner Belardo and jockey James Doyle to become the first horse based outside of Europe to win the Queen Anne. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Lightning Spear in third.

"The mare is the best thing in the world; she's fantastic," Masterson said. "People say Americans have to have drugs in their horses. She had no drugs and no nasal strip, the things everyone was worried about.

"The biggest thing we were worried about was the ground. She'd won on soft but we didn't know how bad the ground was. She performed magnificently. She had a lot of things to overcome for the first time, but she just did it."

In her first race outside the U.S., champion grass female Tepin secured the fifth Grade or Group 1 win of her career; filling winning trainer Mark Casse with emotion in his Royal Ascot debut.

"She's a great horse and she showed her greatness today. She overcame so many obstacles so it's very emotional for us," Casse said. "I just knew she was going to give her best and I wanted everyone to see how good she is. We'll now build her up to the Breeders' Cup Mile again."

While favored at 7-5 in U.S. pools, the soft ground gave overseas bettors enough pause that Tepin was sent off at 5-1 in the United Kingdom with Belardo going off as the 9-2 co-favorite there. When the starting gate opened, the field initially split into two groups, with Tepin leading a contingent that raced closer to the stands' side.

Under regular rider Julien Leparoux, Tepin raced close up throughout. She began to make headway a quarter mile from the finish before seizing the lead a furlong from the wire. She continued gamely to the finish.

"It's just amazing. It's a great feeling," Leparoux said after winning his Royal Ascot debut. "She's a champion and she proved it today. She had to work hard, for sure, as the last 100 meters was a long way to go. It's awesome."

Lightning Spear came from a long way back to finish third and earn his first Group 1 placing. The other co-favorite, French challenger Ervedya, never threatened and finished fifth behind Toormore.

"I'm so proud of the horse," trainer Roger Varian said of Belardo. "I thought he might get (Tepin) but she kept finding more, so I have to take my hat off to the winner."

Out of the Stravinsky mare Life Happened, Tepin was bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall.

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