She’s become America’s Queen of the Mile and he’s arguably the European King of the Sprints.
Tepin is trained in Canada by Mark Casse, and has proved dominant in the US since her success in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland. She also conquered England mid-summer, with victory in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. The mare has won 11 of her last 14 outings, though somewhat fluffed her lines last time, when failing to reel-in Photo Call in the Fair Lady Stakes; a race she had won comfortably a year earlier.
Limato is the apple of Henry Candy’s eye, and was at his most impressive over six furlongs in the Darley July Cup, when showing a stunning burst of acceleration to scoot clear of a strong looking field. He then ran a cracker behind Mecca’s Angel in the Nunthorpe over an inadequate trip. His only attempt at a mile came in the Lockinge Stakes back in May. It was his seasonal debut, and he ran respectably to finish fourth behind Belardo. Fast ground Is key to Henry Candy’s stable star. At Chantilly in October conditions were ideal, and he pulverised a decent field in the Prix de la Foret; a race Goldikova contested prior to her victories in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Thrilled with his final piece of work, Candy spoke of Limato yesterday, saying: “Apart from half-thinking about bringing Time Charter here, it's never crossed my mind to have a runner in the US, but Limato is probably the best horse I've ever trained and that's what you need out here. I'm very happy with the way he is. This is as big an occasion as it gets and we're all very excited. It's completely different to European racing, but he has got a huge amount of speed and is very intelligent.”
Limato and Tepin are vying for favouritism in this mouth-watering renewal, with Ballydoyle’s Alice Springs next best in the market. She’s done nothing but improve throughout the summer, and has captured a trio of Group 1s. She was runner-up in the Juvenile Fillies’ a year ago, suggesting she’ll cope well with the trip across the Atlantic. In her victories at Newmarket and in her third-place finish at Royal Ascot, she finished her race powerfully.There’s no doubting that Alice stays the mile trip strongly, and will be doing her best work late-on. My concern is to whether she has the tactical speed, at a track like Santa Anita, to be in striking distance when it matters.
Ironicus is another that is likely to arrive late on the scene. Runner-up to Miss Temple City in a Grade1 at Keeneland last time, the imposing grey was flying at the finish. He arguably needs a little further than the mile to be at his absolute best, but is a real danger if near enough in the home straight. The five-year-old chased home Flintshire back in June, over a 10-furlong trip. He was unlucky in running that day, and is undoubtedly a classy sort.
The Mile is a race captured by horses across the age spectrum. Tepin won as a four-year-old, but a pair aged six have been successful in the past five renewals. We’ve had three long-priced winners in the past decade, with four favourites prevailing in that period. Several horses have returned for a repeat success over the years. Miesque, Lure, Goldikova and Wise Dan all won back-to-back, with Goldikova taking three-in-a-row from 2008 to 2010.
This looks a stronger renewal than 12 months ago. Nevertheless, there’s no doubting that Tepin is a wonderful mare, with a career record that speaks for itself. I envisage her being ridden prominently, and striking for home early in the straight. She’ll have several horses charging late and fast, including Limato, Alice Springs and Ironicus. Will they be able to get to her?
Limato must prove that he can stay the trip. If he settles well enough, the Santa Anita track coupled with lightning quick ground, should give him every chance of success. I think he’ll win, but I can see this being an absolute thriller.