Ricoh Woodbine Mile contender Tepin gallops at Woodbine under exercise rider Jason Hoyte for trainer Mark Casse.
Fans have long-awaited the return of the “Queen of the Turf,” and the time is just about here as Tepin will contest the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile this Saturday.
Up first on a strong Saturday card at Woodbine is the G3 Ontario Derby, for 3-year-olds over nine furlongs on the Tapeta. Headlining the field is Queen’s Plate runner-up Amis Gizmo, the Ontario-bred who captured the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. His main competition looks to come from Berliner, stepping up to stakes company for the first time off two strong allowance victories.
At Churchill Downs, a field of six fillies and mares will contest 1 1/16 miles in the G3 Locust Grove, led by Neil Howard trainee Ahh Chocolate. She was most recently third in Ellis Park’s G3 Groupie Doll, and will face tough competition from both graded stakes winner Innovative Idea and multiple graded stakes-placed Sweetgrass in this spot.
Woodbine’s G2 Canadian Stakes, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, features Chad Brown trainee Dacita over nine furlongs on the turf. The mare is riding a two-race win streak, last out capturing the G1 Diana at Saratoga. She will face stablemate Rainha da Bateria as well as the Irish-bred Steip Amach, who is a multiple Group 1 placed filly.
In Woodbine’s G1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, The Pizza Man will try to get back on top of a tough division as he contests 12 furlongs on the turf course. He will face very tough competition from G1 winners World Approval, Wake Forest, and Big Blue Kitten. Ontario-bred Danish Dynaformer was fifth last out in the Arlington Million, and will look to rebound in a big way here on his home track.
Up at Belmont Park, a competitive field of seven sophomore fillies is lined up for the G2 Sands Point Stakes, over nine furlongs on the turf. Leading the field is Shug McGaughey’s On Leave, winner of the listed Riskaverse Stakes last out at Saratoga and stepping into graded company for the first time.
Back at Churchill, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile kicks off the Kentucky Derby points race in the G3 Iroquois Stakes, in which 2-year-olds will contest 1 1/16 miles over the main track. Recruiting Ready is the likely favorite despite a disappointing fourth-place effort in the Saratoga Special last out. Top local maiden victor Not This Time will step up in company and try to parlay his 10-length romp at Ellis Park into a graded stakes victory. Trainer Mark Casse is also confident in his entrant Thirstforlife, with the red-hot Florent Geroux listed to ride.
Tepin will face a field of seven others in the G1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile. At one mile over the Woodbine turf course, the Mark Casse-trained mare will be returning to the track for the first time since her stirring victory in the G1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. Her top competitor appears to be the British shipper Mutakayyef, who was third in a very strong edition of the G1 Juddmonte International last out, and won the G2 Fred Cowley Memorial Summer Mile before that.
Back at Churchill, the race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies will continue with the G2 Pocahontas Stakes, when 2-year-old fillies will contest 1 1/16 miles over the main track. Trainer Mark Casse has another favorite here with Dream Dancing, a Tapit daughter who broke her maiden at Saratoga. Texas-bred Bling on the Music is three-for-three lifetime for trainer J.R. Caldwell, including a pair of stakes races, the latest of which she ran away with by 13 lengths. Trainer Steve Asmussen also appears to have a contender in Ever So Clever, fifth in the G2 Adirondack last out at the Spa.
The G3 Charles Town Oaks Saturday evening features even-money favorite Sophia’s Song for trainer Todd Pletcher, winner of a listed stakes at Laurel Park and second last out in an allowance at Saratoga.
On Sunday, Woodbine’s G2 Summer Stakes features juveniles over one mile on the turf, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Conquest Farenheit leads the field off a strong maiden win over the course, though Bill Mott trainee Good Samaritan was very impressive to close from the rear of the field in a maiden special weight event around two turns at Saratoga.
The G1 Natalma is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, and is contested over one mile on Woodbine’s turf course. A full field of 14 will line up in this spot, led by Wesley Ward trainee Red Lodge off a listed stakes win at Monmouth Park. The filly did not fair well at Ascot earlier in the summer, but his strong win in the Colleen Stakes puts him in contention here. Chad Brown has entered Beat the Benchmark off a late-running maiden score at Saratoga, and Tim Hamm trainee Tapa Tapa Tapa is entering this race on a two-race win streak over the course.
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