01/06/2017 11:10AM

2016 Eclipse Awards: Tepin

Debbie Roma

Rare feats will define Tepin’s racing career.

In 2015, Tepin became the first female to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile in five years. In 2016, she reached a unique milestone – the first American-based horse to win the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting in England.

No wonder Tepin is again a finalist for the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding turf female of 2016, a title she won in 2015.

Tepin won 6 of 8 starts in England and North America in 2016, a season in which she raced in three countries and earned $1,961,945. The season began with high expectations and lived up to the hype.

Owned by Robert Masterson and trained by Mark Casse, Tepin was a 5-year-old in 2016. She had a smooth start to the campaign, winning her first two starts in turf stakes at Tampa Bay Downs – the Grade 3 Endeavour Stakes in February and the Grade 2 Hillsborough Stakes in March.

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Tepin was equally outstanding in Kentucky in the spring, winning the Grade 1 Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes by five lengths at Keeneland on April 16 and the Distaff Turf Mile by 3 1/2 lengths on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs on May 7.

Ascot was next. Tepin was part of a field of 13 in the Queen Anne and was 11-2 in the race on a straightaway mile. From the start, jockey Julien Leparoux had Tepin in a stalking position. The mare was in contention with two furlongs to go and took the lead with an eighth of a mile remaining, winning by a half-length over Belardo, who won the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury Racecourse in England the preceding month.

“There were a lot of things stacked against us today, but in the end her greatness prevailed,” Casse said in the winner’s circle.

“The mare is the best thing in the world,” a proud Masterson said. “She just performed magnificently. It is a great message to send back home.”

Tepin got a summer vacation after Royal Ascot, She did not race again until the Ricoh Woodbine Mile in September, a race she won by a half-length against males despite a troubled start. The Grade 1 Woodbine Mile was Tepin’s third career win against males, a figure that would be unchanged for the rest of 2016.

Tepin lost her final two starts. She was a surprising second, at 2-5, to Photo Call, in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 8, losing by 2 3/4 lengths. In the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 5, Tepin closed with a furious rush through the final quarter-mile to finish a half-length behind Tourist, who ran the best race of his career. Tepin made up more than nine lengths in the last half-mile and was second-best in the richest turf mile of the year in North America.

Any doubt that Tepin was off form after her loss at Keeneland was erased with the game performance in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

“She ran a winning race, and I’m not overly upset about it,” Casse said the day after the Mile. “She was maybe just a little unlucky. All the doubters were wrong, so that is satisfying.”

By the end of the year, Tepin had career marks of 13 wins in 23 starts and earnings of $4,437,918. Bred by Machmer Hall, she was bought for $140,000 by Masterson at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton select yearling sale in Saratoga.

It’s been a remarkable career, and one scheduled to continue in 2017.