Party to celebrate Tepin at the Casse barn at Churchill Downs on June 28, 2016.

Party to celebrate Tepin at the Casse barn at Churchill Downs on June 28, 2016.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Globetrotting Tepin Preps for Saratoga Ship

Champion relaxing at Churchill Downs but will soon head to New York for the summer.

Champion turf mare Tepin is taking it easy at her Churchill Downs base and has settled in well since returning June 27.

Fêted the following evening in a party at the barn of trainer Mark Casse after a successful trip overseas to Royal Ascot, where she won the Queen Anne (Eng-I), Robert Masterson's 5-year-old daughter of Bernstein has done nothing more than walk the shedrow in Casse's Kentucky barn. She likely will not begin any serious training until arriving at Saratoga Race Course, where the trainer plans to send a string of 32 contenders next week.

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"She's good, she's happy," assistant Norm Casse said. "We'll probably be going up on the last load to Saratoga and start training her up there. It's kind of crazy to go out there and look at her because it looks like she didn't even go over there. She's happy and she hasn't missed a beat since she got back."

Tepin found gifts of carrots, peppermints, and her favorite sweet potatoes awaiting when she arrived in Kentucky after clearing quarantine in New York. Her connections catered a celebratory dinner with the support of regular rider Julien Leparoux, and champagne flowed freely to welcome the conquering heroine home.

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Tepin's 5-year-old campaign is unblemished in five starts this year. Prior to her international triumph at Royal Ascot, she punched in a pair of victories at Tampa Bay Downs this winter in the Feb. 12 Endeavour (gr. IIIT) and March 13 Hillsborough (gr. IIT) that were followed by decisive wins in the April 16 Jenny Wiley (gr. IT) at Keeneland and May 7 Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT). She is on a seven-race win streak dating back to the First Lady Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland last October, after which she handily defeated males in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) to clinch her championship.

The next major goal for the fleet bay mare is the $1 million Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) Sept. 17, although there is an "outside chance" she could run once before that in the $400,000 Ballston Spa (gr. IIT) on Aug. 27 at Saratoga. She suffered her last defeat in that race in 2015 to Dacita.

"The goal is to run at Woodbine," Casse said. "If she's really training well we could run at Saratoga, but she'd have to be really coming out of her skin for us to do that."