Woodbine Mile musings by @TVGRen

September 16, 2016

By Ren Hakim Carothers for WoodbineMile.com
Tepin. Though her name means “little one” in Aztec, as Will Shakespeare would say, “She is fierce.”
Just ask some of the bay mare’s former conquests. Not only has she dominated her fellow distaffers, with G1 scores in the Just A Game, First Lady, and Jenny Wiley, Tepin has broken the boys’ hearts in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, the latter of which has only been won by one other female in 50 years – 3-time BC Mile victress Goldikova. Among the defeated are Group and Grade 1 winners, including Belardo (Lockhinge), Ervedya (Coronation), Grand Arch (Shadwell Turf Mile) and Mondialiste (Woodbine Mile).
{Check back on Saturday for Ren’s selections in Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ juvenile turf events – the Natalma & Summer Stakes.}
In 19 editions of the Woodbine Mile, the only female to triumph over the boys is Juddmonte’s Ventura (2009), and she did so in a stakes record time of 1:32.04. Wise Dan has since shaved that record down to 1:31.75, but it remains impressive all the same. Our 2012/2013 Horse of the Year is the last favorite to have justified the odds, but I think that changes Saturday, with Tepin reeling off an 8th straight win.

Tepin…
With an odds-on favorite on top, we will have to look elsewhere to make a little profit. Let’s take a look at the field:
Despite the 20-1 M/L, Roger Attfield trainee Tower of Texas should be thought of as an honest racehorse, having finished in the money in 14-of-18 starts, including a mile score on Woodbine’s turf course in the 2015 G2 King Edward. This year’s attempt to defend that stakes victory resulted in a third place finish behind Dimension and Solemn Tribute. He has a pair of runner-up finishes to Glenville Gardens coming into the Woodbine Mile, including the G2 Play the King. Possessing a rousing closing kick, he could spice up the exotics.

Tower of Texas…
Shadwell’s Mutakayyef (GB) is a horse who has lived up to the meaning of his name – adaptable. This son of 2009’s Cartier Horse of the Year and one of the all-time greats, Sea the Stars, and Gr3W/Gr1P Infallible has been on the board in all 13 lifetime starts, across different tracks, varying distances and footing, going left-handed, right-handed, and down straights. He’s a multiple stakes winner at a mile post-gelding (Ganton S., Gr2 Summer Mile) and was a troubled third last out in the Gr1 Juddmonte International, taking on the likes of Highland Reel and the absolute BEAST that is Postponed. I had the honor of seeing Postponed in person in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan, and to have shown grit enough to close just 2-1/4 lengths off him is worthy of respect. Highland Reel is no slouch, either, with Group and Grade 1 wins on the resume, among them, the Hong Kong Vase in which he beat Flintshire. Mutakayyef was also just a neck shy of defeating last year’s Woodbine Mile winner and BC Mile runner-up (behind Tepin), Mondialiste, in the Gr2 Strensall Stakes at York. This stalwart now goes from carrying 132 to 121 and should appreciate not having to navigate a double-digit-deep field.
Arod (Ire) has speed and a Gr3 win under his girth, winning the Diomed. He’s actually just ½ a length shy of being a Gr1 winner, conceding victory to the formidable Solow in the Sussex. That perfomance led to a trip to Australia, where he was well beaten by the sensational mare Winx and Highland Reel. Arod’s form has been inconsistent this year and he last ran third in the Gr2 Celebration Mile. The winner was Lightning Spear, who ran third to Tepin in the Queen Anne Stakes. He does get lasix for the first time and the connections obviously felt him worthy of making the trip.
Sid Attard, who won the Woodbine Mile back in 2001 with Numerous Times, has Glenville Gardens, who’s coming off a natural hat-trick, beating fellow Woodbine-based entrant Tower of Texas in two of those starts, the last being the G2 Play the King at 12-1. Another local vying for Woodbine Mile glory, Passion for Action, who has finished ahead of Glenville Gardens on a couple of occasions, was a length and 1/4 back in 4th that day. Glenville Gardens is 4-for-5 on Woodbine’s turf, but will be stretching back out to a mile, a distance he has not contested since winning the Labeeb on a yielding surface in 2015.

Glenville Gardens…
Full Mast was imported from France, but is a KY-bred son of Mizzen Mast and G1W/Gr1P Yashmak (Flower Bowl, 2nd Gr1 Irish Oaks). Up until returning to the United States and joining Bill Mott’s barn, which took the Woodbine Mile in 1997 with Geri, Full Mast had only run right-handed. He showed promise, winning his first two career starts, including the Gr3 Prix La Rochette, and was placed first via disqualification in the Gr1 Grand Criterium after finishing a bothered ½ length second to Gleneagles, Cartier Champion 2yo Colt and a multiple Gr1 winner (2000 Guineas, Irish 2000 Guineas, St James’s Palace). It was almost a year from his last start in France before he made his U.S. debut, a 1-1/4 length success in a 7-furlong OC 80k/N3X at Belmont, posting a 102 BSF. He was not as successful in his first go at Woodbine, finishing 4th behind Dimension, Solemn Tribute and Tower of Texas in the G2 King Edward. Was there “traffic top of stretch”? Yes. Still, nothing so insurmountable to be a suitable excuse. He was a head bob third last out in the Lure, going 1-1/16th at Saratoga, getting a 103 BSF. Notably, runner-up Jay Gatsby was next beaten a neck in the G2 Bernard Baruch to Ring Weekend, also putting up a 103 BSF. Encouraging to see Joel Rosario makes the trip, too. I wanted to make this colt my second choice at 12-1, but as much as I hemmed and hawed, Mutakayyef ultimately has the more stirring company lines and, to my eye, looks have a more effective stride.
As mentioned before, Passion for Action was 4th last out behind Glenville Gardens, Tower of Texas and Conquest Enforcer in the G2 Play the King. He had come into the race off a G2 triumph in the Highlander over a trio of accomplished sprinters, including Green Mask, Hootenanny, and Lady Shipman. This son of Speightstown obviously has a turn of foot, is a consistent performer, and has put up some noteworthy figures. However, while he won at 1-1/16th at 2yo, he was lackluster at a mile in the G3 Canadian Turf earlier this year against Heart to Heart, Long On Value and Divisidero. A mile against this group may prove too tough an assignment, as well. Regular rider Eurico da Silva will be aboard Tower of Texas.
Jockey Jaime Spencer and Qatar Racing teamed up to win the 2014 edition of the Woodbine Mile with Trade Storm. This year, he pilots Mr. Owen. The Francois Rohaut trainee will be making his second go in the race, having finished 6th in 2015. He’s been in the money in 7-of-10 starts, and 6-of-9 going a mile on the turf. Still, hard to endorse, as he has not seen the winner’s circle since a ½ length victory in the Prix Les Experts last August at Deauville.
It all comes back to Tepin and Julien Leparoux, who won the 2011 running of the Woodbine Mile with Turallure. The layoff is of no concern to me, nor is the footing. This mare has proven herself to be ultra consistent, even with the conditions are not. Having met her at Saratoga, I can say she also has an exceptional temperament, the kind that thrives on the vibes around her, and there is no doubt that the Casse barn has her feeling on top of the world. Why shouldn’t she? She’s a five-time G1 winner, our reigning Eclipse Champion Grass Mare, and has beaten the boys on two continents, including last year’s Woodbine Mile winner, Mondialiste, in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Though he’s never won this turf classic, trainer Mark Casse has won ten Woodbine training titles, is an eight-time Sovereign Award winner, and was recently inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. In what may be surprising to some, he actually hails from Indiana, still, with such ties to Woodbine, how fitting it would be if his prized star were crowned “Homecoming Queen”.
Top 3 picks:
#8 Tepin
#2 Mutakayyef
#5 Full Mast
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Ren Carothers is an award-winning writer, Thoroughbred Breeder and owner working out of the TVG Newsroom. Follow Ren on Twitter @TVGRen.
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