The “Queen of Turf”, otherwise known as Tepin, is bidding to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile back-to-back and she looks good value to do so. The Mark Casse trained five-year-old mare beat Mondialiste in decisive fashion in the showpiece event at Keeneland 12 months ago and although she won’t have it easy this time round, she looks a rock solid betting option. She has finished no worse than second from all of her last 14 starts which include 11 victories. She showed great versatility to travel to the United Kingdom and land the Queen Anne Stakes on good to soft ground when many wrote her off. Since then, she won the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile Stakes and, although she was turned over at long odds on in the First Lady Stakes, she will be perfect for this. This is her first run at Santa Anita, but she is proven over the trip and will love the fast nature of the track; she is the one they all have to beat.
For some reason, connections of Limato felt the horse would be better off running over a mile, but to many this was a bizarre decision. They swerved the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint for this race, but the four-year-old will take on Tepin. This winner of the July Cup and Prix de la Foret did not stay the mile on his sole start over the trip in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last May. He finished fourth behind Belardo that day and looked a horse that was crying out for shorter. Henry Candy said the reason they are going for the mile is because it is “an easy mile”. However, no matter how you want to dress it up, a mile is a mile and for that reason we have to take him on, especially against a horse of the stature of Tepin who eats a mile for breakfast. Time will tell and we may well all be proved wrong, but Limato needs shorter based on the evidence to hand.
Three time Group 1 winner Alice Springs could prove to be the biggest danger to our selection. The Aidan O’Brien trained three-year-old filly, who is by the mighty Galileo, finished runner up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf behind Catch A Glimpse last season. She has been in exceptional form this season; landing the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket, Group 1 Matron Stakes at the Curragh and the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket. She travels really well in her races which is always a good thing for a speed track like Santa Anita and she will get the mile easily. The Europeans have only won this race once in the past five years, but Goldikova won three on the bounce previously, so they do win their fair share. The feeling is that Tepin might just have a little too much power for Alice Springs, but she will give it a very good go.
Last, but certainly not least, the Claude McGaughey III trained Ironicus is another horse in the race who has solid enough place claims. The five-year-old has never been out of the first two from his nine starts to date, which resulted in five victories. He started the year with a smooth victory in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont Park before chasing Flintshire home in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes. He ran another solid race in Group 1 company when a neck second to Miss Temple City in the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes at Keeneland last time out. The trip and track will be no issue whatsoever and he has a good draw in Stall 9 so everything looks set to give it a good shot.