A solid field of 12 of Europe’s top milers, plus one American standout, braved the rain and elements and raced the about one-mile distance in Tuesday’s $480,362 Queen Anne Stakes (GI), the opening event for the weeklong Royal Ascot meeting, and at the wire it was the runner represented by the Stars and Stripes ironically on America’s Flag Day to get the win, as Mark Masterson’s Tepin grabbed the victory in what was arguably one of the most anticipated events in Royal Ascot history.
As America’s reigning female turf champion and Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) winner, Tepin’s connections scoured her potential races this year, and the Queen Anne stood out as the most attractive prospect, especially since the only runner to have ever captured both the Queen Anne and the Breeders’ Cup Mile was the great Goldikova back in 2010 and the comparisons being drawn between the two were not lost on anyone. The Mark Casse trainee had taken on all comers on home soil this year, so a trip across the pond to the United Kingdom made all the sense in the world.
So, on what will likely be the softest turf in her career and in front of a very wet, but very appreciative Ascot crowd, Tepin sat just behind the early pace under regular jockey Julian Leparoux, made a bold move for the lead with about two furlongs left to run, took command several yards out and continued on determinedly to victory by a half-length.
At post time, the daughter of Bernstein was the 7-5 favorite in American wagers, but was the 5-1 third choice in British betting pools.
“It’s just amazing,” Leparoux said. “It’s a great feeling. She’s a champion and she proved it today. She had to work hard, for sure, as the last 100 meters was a long way to go. It’s awesome.”
Belardo, the 9-2 local co-choice, finished second and crossed the wire 1 1/4 lengths in front of 20-1 chance Lightning Spear. Toormore, fellow 9-2 co-favorite Erveyda, Amazing Maria, Kodi Bear, Cougar Mountain, Endless Drama, A Shin Erwin, Mondialiste, Barchan and Esoterique completed the order of finish. Aron was withdrawn.
“I couldn’t even dream anything like this,” Casse said. “To be here and run at the most remarkable place I have ever been and actually have a winner here with a great horse like Tepin, I mean what can I say, it is so special.”
Casse also indicated the longterm plan for 5-year-old Tepin is a defense of her Breeders’ Cup Mile title at Santa Anita in November with a potential prep in the Woodbine Mile, no plans have been made outside of celebrating the moment.
“The plan would be to now go back for the Breeders’ Cup Mile [in November] but at the moment I am not sure where she will go.”
With her fifth career Group/Grade 1 score Tepin earned approximately $182,032 to bring her bankroll to about $1,402,365 based on today’s exchange rate from pound sterling to U.S. dollars. Her running line now stands at 20-12-3-1. In addition to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, she also won the Just A Game Stakes (GI), First Lady Handicap (GI) and Jenny Wiley Stakes (GI). She has also won five other graded stakes.
Also on Tuesday’s first day at Royal Ascot, Mr. A.D. Spence’s Profitable held on gamely to win the King’s Stand Stakes (GI) by a neck over longshot Cotai Glory. Ridden by jockey Adam Kirby, the Clive Cox-trained Profitable tracked the early lead in the five-furlong event, stormed to the lead one furlong out and held on to win at odds of 4-1.
Longshot Goken was another length back in third to complete the trifecta. Favored Mecca’s Angel, at 3-2, was prominent early, but appeared to struggle a bit with the course condition as well as some traffic, having been bumped at least twice, and finished in front of just one at the wire. Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GI) winner Mongolian Saturday, who was raucous in the paddock and post parade, was the early leader, but faded to finish far back in ninth.
Known for enjoying soft ground, Paul Mulrennan couldn’t get Mecca’s Angel involved.
Mongolian Saturday, who was stubborn in the Parade Ring and going down to the start, led early on, but faded quickly on the soft ground.
The third and final Group 1 on Royal Ascot’s opening day card was the one-mile St. James Palace Stakes (GI) for entire colts, and Al Shaqab Racing’s English Two Thousand Guineas (GI) winner Galileo Gold cruised to an impressive victory by 1 1/2 lengths under jockey Frankie Dettori at odds of 6-1 after an impressive trip stalking the early pace. The Hugo Palmer trainee gave champion jockey Dettori his 53rd career victory at Royal Ascot and his first in the St. James Palace Stakes in 19 years.
Favored The Gurkha, who defeated Galileo Gold in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (GI) last out, could not get past the winner at the wire, settling for runner-up honors at 4-5. Awtaad, at 5-2, was another half-length back in third.
“He ran a huge race in Ireland but he wasn’t able to use his stride there,” Palmer said. “At Newmarket (in the English Two Thousand Guineas) and here today the horse’s stride was never broken. Frankie managed to get him into the most magnificent rhythm and then the horse just galloped and galloped and galloped.
“It shows you why at this level you need everything to go right. One tiny thing went wrong in Ireland and we finished second. Everything went right today and we won. He’s a remarkable colt and we’re very lucky to have him.
According to Palmer, next stop for the son of Paco Boy will be the Sussex Stakes (GI) at Goodwood on July 27 during the Quatar “Glorious” Goodwood meeting.