Reigning Champion Turf Mare Tepin will not venture to Sha Tin Racecourse for the $2.967 million Longines Hong Kong Mile (Grade I) on Dec. 11 after all. Instead, this year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) runner-up will target next year’s $6 million Dubai Duty Free (GI), according to assistant trainer Norman Casse.
“She seemed like she was a little bit tired from the trip back (from California),” Casse said. “We kind of set out our goals and our main goal right now is to send her to Dubai. We feel the best way to do that is to forget the Hong Kong trip and get her to a race early on at Tampa to get her ready for Dubai.”
The race Tepin will use as a springboard to the Dubai Duty Free is the $150,000 Lambholm South Endeavour (GIII), a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 11 – the same race that launched her 2016 campaign.
The daughter of Bernstein will remain at the Casse barn for the rest of the Churchill Downs Fall Meet, but will likely not engage in any serious training.
“We’ll probably just wait until we’re down in Florida for that,” Casse said.
The Robert Masterson-owned mare is no stranger to success outside of North America as she defeated some of the world’s top milers over the summer at Royal Ascot in the Queen Anne (G1), which she followed with a victory in the Woodbine Mile (GI) on Sept. 17. Her 5-year-old campaign also included wins in the Endeavour (GIII) and Hillsborough (GII) at Tampa Bay Downs as well as the Jenny Wiley (GI) at Keeneland and the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (GII).
CLAIMING CROWN COULD BE NEXT FOR COMMONWEALTH TURF CHAMP HAY DAKOTA – Following a 29-1 upset victory in Saturday’s Commonwealth Turf (GIII) at Churchill Downs, Hay Dakota is possible to target Gulfstream Park’s $125,000 Claiming Crown Emerald on Dec. 3, according to trainer Joel Berndt who scored the first graded stakes victory of his career.
“We’ll go if it’s not too soon for the horse,” Berndt said. “We’d be running him back on December 3rd, but it seems like nothing really takes anything out of this horse so if we can rebound and get him acclimatized in Miami, we might try it out.”
Prior to lighting up the Churchill Downs tote board on Saturday, the son of Haynesfield defeated older horses at his home base of Hawthorne in an Oct. 19 allowance/optional claiming event. In this summer’s $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park, Hay Dakota was third beaten a neck behind graded stakes winner One Mean Man, who was seventh in the Commonwealth Turf.
“We were so far back that day in the Mystic Lake Derby and it was all speed that was winning that day,” Berndt said. “Maybe just one more jump would’ve helped us out.”
NEW TRAINER ORTIZ IN SEARCH OF FIRST CAREER VICTORY WITH SULLY’S DREAM – Third time could be the charm for new trainer John Ortiz when he saddles Sully’s Dream in Wednesday’s ninth race at Churchill Downs.
With only two starts under his belt as a trainer, the former assistant to Kellyn Gorder is anxious to make his first trip to the winner’s circle and has always had ambitions of going out on his own.
“When I was 22 years old I told myself that my ultimate goal was to be a trainer by the time I’m 30,” Ortiz said. “This year I got engaged, had a child and here I am at age 30 with my own stable.”
Ortiz has learned from some of the best in the game when it comes to being a successful trainer including Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott who he worked for as a foreman at Belmont Park. He also worked at Fair Hill for trainer Graham Motion as his travelling assistant.
“Mott really got me started showing me what I need to know, including galloping horses,” Ortiz said. “I started working for him when I was 15 and obviously I was real young at the time so I was taught a lot about responsibility and simply having a job. I had to learn how to always do right by the horse. He’s kind of old school so he stressed having a strong work ethic and good horsemanship. Mott is about as good of a horseman as there is.
"I learned a lot from Graham, and with him I took in a lot on how to manage a barn,” Ortiz said. “I didn’t really ask questions. I learned by being observant and I watched how he handles his help. I just loved the way Graham handles his stable. He runs it a lot like a business. He’s such a class act the way he goes about things and I was very fortunate to have worked for him. When I started working for Kellyn I tried to handle his barn the way that Graham did with his.”
Ortiz believes that Sully’s Dream, who put on a tremendous display of effort when breaking her maiden by 12 lengths at Ellis Park over the summer, is something special.
“Kellyn and I were both in agreement that Sully’s Dream is one of the best fillies that have gone through the barn,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been working with the filly ever since she got off the farm. I helped her get ready for her first start so she’s been under my care and she’s very talented. She’s only 2, but she’s outworked a lot of the older horses. We worked her in company with Whateverybodywants who was second to Cupid in the (Aug. 6) West Virginia Derby (GII).”
Ortiz expressed gratefulness in the time he worked under Gorder.
“I’m very grateful for the time that I have spent working for Kellyn,” Ortiz said. “He showed me a lot about pedigrees and race planning, but he has always been very supportive of me and wanted to help me achieve my goals.”
Sully’s Dream isn’t the only horse that Ortiz has running on Wednesday. He also runs Memphisinmay at Hawthorne on the same day.
“To win both would be incredible,” Ortiz said.
SINGLE 6 JACKPOT – There’s a 10-day carryover of $66,889 in the 20-cent minimum Single 6 Jackpot for Sunday, and the sequence covers Races 5-10 starting at 3 p.m. EST. The Single 6 Jackpot, which features a low 15-percent takeout, will be paid out only if there is a single winning wager with six winners placed at the required minimum bet value. If there are multiple winning wagers with six winners in the six-race sequence, 90 percent of the net money wagering into the pool will be paid out, and the remaining 10 percent will carry to the Single 6 Jackpot. If there are no tickets will all six winners, 100 percent of the pool will carry to the Single 6 Jackpot. There will be a mandatory payout on closing day.
DOWN THE STRETCH – Happy Birthday to Churchill Downs champion jockey Corey Lanerie, who turned 42 on Sunday. … According to Churchill Downs stakes coordinator Dan Bork, the known probable starters for Saturday’s $100,000 Cardinal Handicap (Grade III), a 1 1/8-mile event for fillies and mares on the Matt Winn Turf Course, are Cash Control (assigned 119 pounds), Kitten’s Roar (119), Real Smart (118), Lady Fog Horn (117), Lots o’ Lex (117), Annulment (116), No Fault of Mine (116), Belle de Nuit (ARG) (115), Christie’s Ready (114), Salama (114) and The Tea Cups (114). … Expected entries for Saturday’s $70,000-added Bet On Sunshine Overnight Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds, include Recount, Schivarelli and Ulanbator. … Wednesday is Senior Day at Churchill Downs with a discounted Millionaires Row offer for seniors age 60 and up.