Tepin Tries for Eight Straight in Woodbine Mile


By Ellis Starr, courtesy of America's Best Racing

The 20th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile features the amazing mare Tepin, who has won 10 of 15 turf races in her career, including seven in a row. Winner of the 2015 Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile (against males), Tepin steps out against males once again and faces seven rivals in a bid for a spot in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Mile, most of whom aren't really experts at this mile trip on turf or are unproven at this Grade 1 level.

Three horses come in from Europe to face Tepin and two of those have stakes winning credentials of note. Mutakayyef won the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes in July and Arod won the same race in 2015. Both horses enter the race off third-place finishes in top company and may have something to say in the stretch. Glenville Gardens won the biggest race of his career last month when victorious in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes at seven furlongs on the course. Tower of Texas, who won the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes last year, secured the runner-up spot in the Play the King for the second year in a row. Mr. Owen ran in North America just once previously, his rally from ninth in last year's Woodbine Mile but falling short as he ended up sixth at the end. Passion for Action won the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes in July and although a multiple stakes winner he has only raced a mile on grass one time previously in his career, finishing sixth.

Six for seven at the distance of a mile on turf in her career, Tepin was inches away from having won 12 straight races. After three wins starting in March of 2015, Tepin lost by a nose last July, then by a head last August before reeling off seven straight wins. Two of those victories came against males including last year's Breeders' Cup Mile with a then-career-best 125 Equibase Speed Figure. In her most recent race, Tepin beat males again when traveling to Great Britain for the Royal Ascot meeting, winning the Queen Anne Stakes against 12 rivals with a 124 figure. Since returning to North America, Tepin put in a series of workouts on the turf that scream she's ready to take on, and beat, some of the best milers in the world once again.

Mutakayyef makes his North American debut and is the biggest, possibly only, threat to Tepin. Mutakayyef put together back-to-back wins at a mile on turf in June and July, the latter win coming in a field of 10 in the Summer Mile Stakes with a 118 Equibase figure. Jockey Dane O'Neill has been aboard Mutakayyef just twice in his career, first to a seven-length victory in 2014 and more recently when in the saddle for the Summer Mile. Not disgraced a bit when third of 12 in the Juddmonte International at a 1 5/16 miles last month following his Summer Mile win, Mutakayyef may benefit from the cut back in distance and the fact he is facing softer competition (save for Tepin). As such, this rock solid miler has a shot at the mild upset.

Arod is another horse making his North American debut. Eased in the Darley July Cup in July, Arod didn't run much better when tenth in his next start on August 14, but when brought back just 13 days he later missed second place by just a head in the Celebration Mile Stakes. Last summer, Arod got very good with wins in the Diomed Stakes before a win in the same Summer Mile Stakes won by Mutakayyef this year. As such, with the addition of Lasix and on the upswing in form off a decent showing a few weeks ago, Arod could have a say in the outcome.

The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase figures is Full Mast (114), Glenville Gardens (116), Mr. Owen (111), Passion for Action (113) and Tower of Texas (115).

My selections: