Robert Masterson's 5-year-old racemare built a six-race win streak in graded stakes for trainer Mark Casse, coming off a record-setting victory in the April 16 Coolmore Jenny Wiley (gr. IT) at Keeneland. She easily reeled in pacesetter Isabella Sings turning for home after opening fractions of :23.35 and :46.06, and drew clear to win by 3 1/2 lengths with jockey Julien Leparoux giving a confident glance under his left shoulder to measure the competition.
Tepin joins Foresta (1990-91) as the only repeat winners in the race. It marked the third victory in the race for Leparoux, who also won in 2013 with Stephanie's Kitten as well as last year on Tepin.
"She's just a champ," Leparoux said. "She's a very good filly. I'm blessed to be on her. She's the best I've ever rode, that's for sure. She is really just special. Every time you ask her for something she does it even better. Today I didn't want to be too far from Johnny (Velazquez on Isabella Sings). I took her a little bit out of her comfort zone, but then she just reacts on the backside and came kicking at the end like she always does."
The final time for the mile test was 1:34.36 on firm turf. Rainha Da Bateria closed from seventh to place second, while Cash Control made a willing move between horses at the eighth pole to finish third.
As long as she is happy and healthy, the next day or two we'll map out a plan. So I guess Royal Ascot here we come
"She is just amazing," Casse said. "I've been coming here for a long time. This is my first time since my dad (the late Norman Casse) passed away a couple of months ago, so this is kind of hard. If you're a horse trainer, this is what you strive for, and I don't know if there is a better place to win than at Churchill Downs on Derby Day—and then to win with the best horse I have ever trained is very nice."
Tepin began her championship season last year with a 1 1/2-length score in the Distaff Turf Mile, adding victories in the Longines Just a Game (gr. IT), First Lady (gr. IT), and Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) against males. She is perfect this year, with wins in the Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes (gr. IIIT) and Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIT) to go along with the Jenny Wiley and Distaff Turf Mile.
"I'm a big believer in confidence, and I think that she got her confidence," Casse said. "She gets along real well with Julien and I've said this many times, but (son and assistant trainer) Norman has done a great job with her and he knows her. She doesn't train like the average horse. Everyone looked and said 'Oh, she worked so slow for the race.' Someone came up and said 'Are you worried?' and I said, 'You just don't worry, she's better than ever,' She's learned to relax.
"We have a lot of good older horses and I believe in letting them get confidence and get better. She's probably one of our biggest accomplishments because she started out as good and she's become great. Nobody can predict this. I don't care how good you are or how good a trainer you are, no one can predict greatness like her."
Tepin, favored at odds of 1-5 in the field of seven, returned $2.60, $2.20, and $2.10. Rainha Da Bateria brought $6 and $4. Cash Control paid $4.60 to show. Zipessa, Bureau de Change, She's Not Here, and Isabella Sings completed the order of finish. Josdesanimaux and Ticking Kate (IRE) scratched.
This race sets Tepin up perfectly for the Royal Ascot trip her connections have been eyeing all year. She could run in the Queen Anne Stakes (ENG-I) June 14.
"We'll start talking about it tomorrow," Casse said. "We've already done some blood work in advance. She's a great shipper. I would say that we would let her go not too early. This is home for her and she likes this racetrack and so we'll try to stay here as long as we can."
The Distaff Turf score boosted Tepin's earnings past the $3 million mark at $3,078,253 with a record of 19-11-3-1. She was bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall out of the Stravinsky mare Life Happened, and was a $140,000 purchase from the Select Sales consignment to the Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga select yearling sale.