Tepin Upset by Photo Call in First Lady at Keeneland
Tepin, the reigning queen of the filly-mare turf ranks, was upset Saturday at Keeneland as Photo Call (29-1) sped away to a huge lead and held off the big favorite Tepin (2-5) to win the First Lady Stakes in Lexington, KY.
Photo Call was loose on the lead down the backstretch and into the far turn. Tepin began her rally down the lane but could not get to the winner, as Photo Call held command comfortably to the wire to pull the shocker and win by 2 ¾ lengths.
Photo Call paid $61.40 on top, $10.80 to place and $5.60 to show. Tepin paid $2.20 and $2.10 while Celestine flattened out in the stretch and finished three lengths back for third to pay $2.40 as the second choice.
Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux sent Photo Call out front from the far outside No. 10 post and never looked back finishing one mile in 1:35.62 over a firm turf.
“She was really full of herself, and I rode her with confidence” Desormeaux said. “She came into the far turn and hit another gear, and then threw her ears up three or four jumps later. It would have taken something even more freakish than Tepin to keep up with her at that point. She was just phenomenal.”
Purchased as a broodmare prospect last November at Keeneland for $3 million, Photo Call had won once in six starts since being turned over to trainer Todd Pletcher while running in longer turf races. She bolted out at the shorter distance and led by seven lengths after a half-mile, by 10 lengths after six furlongs, and by 5-1/2 lengths passing the furlong pole. Tepin, ridden by Julien Leparoux, dug in down the stretch but had simply gotten too far behind to threaten.
“I can’t take anything away from the winner,” Leparoux said.
Pletcher said from Belmont Park that “we planned to shorten her up to see if we could get her back off the pace. Kent said she was pretty keen, so he just decided to drops his hands, called an audible and it worked out.”
Tepin, the reigning champion turf female, had not lost a race in over a year. She finished second in back-to-back races last summer and also won the Grade I Just a Game Stakes at Belmont last June before rattling off eight-straight wins starting with last year’s First Lady Stakes.
“It’s horse racing,” Norman Casse, top assistant to his father, trainer Mark Casse, calmly explained of Tepin’s defeat. “I think she ran a good race. I just think the other horse had a little better trip and things got to go her way. We got beat today, that’s all.”
Tepin now proceeds to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita as one of the favorites. Tepin defeated males last year in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland to start her eight-race win streak that came to an end Saturday.
“The goal has always been the Breeders’ Cup Mile, a repeat there,” said Norman Casse, son of and assistant to trainer Mark Casse. “I haven’t lost any confidence in her. I think we are still set up to do that and she’ll move forward from this race.”
Unlike most of the FallStars Weekend stakes at Keeneland, there is no Win and You’re In berth to the Breeders’ Cup attached to the First Lady.