TORONTO — The "Queen of The Turf," reigned supreme Saturday.
Tepin took the lead early in the stretch and was never seriously threatened in winning the $1-million Ricoh Woodbine Mile. The victory was the heralded Kentucky-bred filly's eighth straight but first following a three-month break.
Jockey Julien Leparoux broke Tepin well from the No. 8 post and had her fourth until the final turn. He took the 2/5 favourite to the lead and although she began to tire late, there was no chance of North America's reigning champion turf female being caught at the wire.
"She felt good and relaxed and was driving real good the whole way," Leparoux said. "She got a little tired at the end but we expected that.
"She's been out three months but she ran great. She makes my job easy."
Assistant trainer Norm Casse commended Leparoux for his winning trip.
"Julien rode a really smart race," Casse said. "He knew what we were up against, he knew we were coming off a layoff and he had to save a little bit.
"He wasn't going to be able to make that big move that she typically makes . . . at no point did I ever think he'd be had today."
Tepin topped the eight-horse field in 1:34.13 on a good turf. While it rained most of the day, the sun and a rainbow appeared as the field came to the track.
Tower of Texas finished a half-length behind in second ahead of Mutafayyek. The remainder of the field, in order of finish, included: Full Mast; Arod; Mr. Owen; Glenville Gardens; and Passion for Action.
Tepin paid $2.90 and $2.10. Tower of Texas returned $10.60.
Tepin captured the $600,000 winner's share and a fees-paid berth in the Breeders' Cup Mile on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita. She's the defending champion, winning last year's event at Keeneland.
Saturday's race was Tepin's first since June 14. That's when she became the first North American-based winner of the prestigious Grade 1 Queen Anne Stakes, a one-mile turf race at England's Royal Ascot.
Woodbine becomes the ninth different track Tepin has won at and she's just the second filly to capture this event after Ventura (2009).
Tepin earned trainer Mark Casse, eight times Canada's top conditioner and a recent inductee into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, his first Mile victory. But Casse was grounded in Lexington, Ky., and couldn't attend.
The win was also very special for the junior Casse — who is Mark's son and has developed a close bond with Tepin.
"I feel I've got to know her, I know what makes her tick (and) the little things we need to do to get ready for big races," he said. "We don't mess things up with her, we stay out of her way and that's where the winning streak comes from.
"This was a really special moment for me. When I first started personally in horse racing, I came to Woodbine. This is where I learned everything. This, to me, is the marque race Woodbine puts on and to bring our best horse and win it is really really nice."
It was another successful run at Woodbine for Leparoux, who rode Turallure to victory in the 2011 Mile and won this year’s Queen's Plate with Sir Dudley Digges. But with Tepin having reeled off eight straight wins, Leparoux, 33, doesn't want to be the one who ends the streak.
"It's almost like she knows she's going to go ahead and win the race," said Leparoux, who suffered a fractured wrist Aug. 6 at Saratoga. "She has so much confidence that she makes me confident.
"She has eight wins in a row and as a jockey you definitely want to win. You don't want to lose . . . she's been winning so much."
It seems Tepin has a definite following at Woodbine as fans chanted her name following the race.
"No, (that) was the first time," Leparoux said. "When you talk about Tepin she has a real big fan club.
"Everybody loves her and it's great. It's good for racing, she's good for racing and the connections are good for racing."
"I'd never been part of something like that," he said. "Even at Royal Ascot when we won it was a pretty emotional moment, the crowd was really acknowledging her.
"But for us to have people chanting her name coming back is a pretty cool moment."
Tepin earned her 13th win in 21 career starts and 11th victory in 16 turf events. She also boosted her career earnings over $4 million.
Casse said Tepin is expected to compete in one final race before the Breeders' Cup.