10/08/2016 5:38PM

Photo Call ($61.40) upsets Tepin in First Lady

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Photo Call took a huge lead and won the First Lady by 2 3/4 lengths.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Queen finally was dethroned – at least for a day.

Tepin, the reigning queen of the filly-mare turf ranks, was unable to make sufficient headway after Photo Call sped away to a huge lead before holding sway for a 2 3/4-length upset in the 19th running of the Grade 1 First Lady on a sunny Saturday at Keeneland.

With Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux sending her out of the far outside post, Photo Call opened up on her nine rivals going into the first turn of the one-mile race  and never looked back, dealing Tepin her first defeat in nine races.

Photo Call returned $61.40 after finishing in 1:35.62 over a firm turf. Tepin, the 2-5 favorite, was another 3 1/2 lengths before Celestine, with Nemoralia another three lengths back in fourth.

“She was really full of herself,” Desormeaux said. “I rode her with confidence.”

Purchased as a broodmare prospect last November at Keeneland for $3 million by Vinnie and Teresa Viola, Photo Call had won once in six starts since being turned over to trainer Todd Pletcher while running in longer turf races. Desormeaux said the turn-back to a mile meant it was possible Photo Call would be outrun for the lead and that Pletcher had instructed him to “cover her up.”

Laughing, he said: “That wasn’t happening.”

Indeed, Photo Call 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.”

The defeat does little to change the year-end goal for Tepin, who now proceeds to the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita as one of the favorites. Tepin defeated males last year in the BC Mile at Keeneland as part of a remarkable 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.

Pletcher said it’s doubtful Photo Call will stretch back out in the Nov. 5 Filly-Mare Turf at 1 1/4 miles. Last year, Photo Call was fifth in the Filly-Mare turf when making her last start for Mrs. P.K. Cooper and trainer Graham Motion.

“I talked to Vinnie Viola right after the race and he mentioned maybe the Mile,” Pletcher said. “She did win at Santa Anita before, so we'll see.”

Tepin had already earned a Win and You’re In to the BC Mile for owner Robert Masterson after defeating males in the Woodbine Mile last month.

The $2 exacta (10-2) paid $184.80, the $1 trifecta (10-2-8) returned $266.30, and the 10-cent superfecta (10-2-8-5) was worth $198.15.

– additional reporting by David Grening

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