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Kentucky Downs grad Tourist nips Tepin in Mile; Valadorna second in Juvenile Fillies stakes debut

By Jennie Rees
Special to KyForward

ARCADIA, Calif. — Tourist finally got a good trip.

In his third start in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile, Tourist got a good post position, clean path and turf he relished. As a result, the 5-year-old horse won the world’s biggest mile grass race, getting the jump on defending champion Tepin in the stretch for a half-length victory. Over very firm turf, Tourist covered the mile in 1:31.71 under Joel Rosario, two one-hundredths of a second off the Santa Anita Park course record before a crowd of 72,811.

Tourist is owned by the partnership of breeder WinStar Farm, Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable. He’s trained by Bill Mott, Churchill Downs all-time win leader who retains a Kentucky operation while his main string is in New York. It was Mott’s ninth Breeders’ Cup victory.

“He’s always had Grade 1 talent, we were just able to put it together this year,” said WinStar president Elliott Walden. “But he wins two Grade 1 races this year including the best mile race in the world.”

Tourist with Joel Rosario up edges Tepin and Julien Leparoux in Breeders' Cup Mile on turf. (Photo by Benoit Photo)

Tourist with Joel Rosario up edges Tepin and Julien Leparoux in Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf. (Photo by Benoit Photo)

Robert Masterson’s Tepin, who spent much of her past two years training and racing at Churchill Downs and Keeneland, did nothing to diminish her stature as one of the very best turf milers of either sex in the world, having gone to Royal Ascot for an unprecedented American victory in the Queen Anne. A second in Keeneland’s Grade 1 First Lady as she had to close into a paceless race ended her eight-race win streak that included last year’s Mile at Keeneland.

“I’m just proud of her,” said trainer Mark Casse, who was Keeneland’s leading trainer for the third time last month. “This filly has been good for so long. I had to hear so much about what we had done and how she got beat. Today was her goal, and unfortunately we just came up a touch short. But we’re going to go away with our head held high. She’s just an unbelievable horse.”

Casse didn’t discount that the Julien Leparoux-ridden Tepin could keep racing. “I thought she trained the last couple of weeks as good as I’ve ever seen her train,” he said. “Mr. Masterson is a sportsman.”

The 5-year-old Tourist, who almost assuredly will be retired to a stud career at WinStar, started his career 0 for 4 on dirt before turning to turf. He won three straight before finishing second in Arlington Park’s Grade 1 Secretariat for 3-year-olds, after which he started from post 13 in his first Breeders’ Cup, racing wide throughout and finishing 13th.

The son of the WinStar stallion Tiznow, a two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, would not race for another 10 months as he took a long time to recover from an illness. When he resurfaced, it was in Kentucky Downs’ $300,000 More Than Ready, where his big victory over future Grade 1 winner Undrafted was his first in a stakes.

Tourist has been in only Grade 1 races since. He was third by a total of a neck in Keeneland’s 2015 Shadwell Turf Mile, then eighth in his second Breeders’ Cup Mile when facing trouble and struggling over softish turf. In 2016, he was third (Keeneland’s Makers 46 Mile), fourth (Churchill Downs’ Woodford Reserve Turf Classic) and second (Santa Anita’s Shoemaker) before winning Saratoga’s Fourstardave, then third by a total of a half-length back in the Shadwell.

Keeneland produced four of the top five finishers in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Mile. Shadwell runner-up Ironicus and Shadwell heroine Miss Temple City were fourth and fifth in a three-horse photo for third.

Walden gave a shout-out to the Kentucky Downs race in Tourist’s development off the layoff.

“It was a great confidence booster,” he said. “Obviously he’s a miler, with mile speed. He can win anywhere. He’s won at Saratoga, here, Kentucky Downs. That’s what makes him so versatile. But it’s nice for Kentucky Downs, too.

“Kentucky Downs is a great place, developing stars in the game on the grass. And it’s great for Tourist to be part of them.”

Valadorna good Juvenile Fillies second in stakes debut

Valadorna was one of only two horses in Saturday’s $2 million 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies that had not previously run in a stakes. But in the division’s championship event, Stonestreet Stable’s daughter of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin closed strongly through the stretch to take second, losing to 30-1 shot Champagne Room by three-quarters of a length.

American Gal, the 9-2 favorite, finished another 3 1/4 lengths back in third, edging the late-running Daddys Lil Darling, winner of Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Pocahontas and second in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades.

It was Valadorna’s third lifetime start. She was second by a length in her debut at Churchill Downs then won at Keeneland by six lengths.

“She ran great,” said Mark Casse, Keeneland’s three-time leading trainer. “She had a good trip, maybe just a little late getting out with kind of soft fractions. But I was proud of her. She’s a very good horse.”

Valadorna saved ground on the rail before Julien Leparoux got her to the outside at the top of the stretch, closing from ninth but unable to catch the Peter Eurton-trained Champagne Room, who had been up close to the tepid pace under two-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Mario Gutierrez.

“She ran big,” said Leparoux, fresh off his 11th Keeneland riding title. “There was no speed. I thought there would be more than that, but they didn’t go very quick. The winner got the jump on us, but she came running very nicely. Going from a maiden at Keeneland to what she did today is a big accomplishment.”

Norman Casse, top assistant to his dad, said a lot of credit goes to David Carroll, who was in charge of the Churchill Downs horses during the summer while Norman Casse was at Saratoga.

Normandy Farm’s Daddys Lil Darling, wide on both turns after breaking from post 11, came flying late to take fourth under Corey Lanerie. The Scat Daddy filly, who won an Ellis Park maiden race by eight lengths, had to start from post 14 in the Alcibiades.

“Horrible,” said Kenny McPeek, the Lexington- and Louisville-based trainer. “Once again, like her last race, her race was lost at the draw. He couldn’t get her inside, had to take an even wider trip on the second turn and then somebody bolted into her when they were coming out of the turn. And she still runs fourth, giving up 10 lengths on the trip.”

McPeek said Daddys Lil Darling could run back in Churchill Downs’ Grade 2 Golden Rod if she comes out of the race well.

“She’s the best filly in Kentucky, I’d think,” he said. “But she’s just really unlucky.”

Jennie Rees is a racing communications specialist from Louisville. Her Breeders’ Cup coverage, which concentrates on the Kentucky horses, is provided free to media as a service by Kentucky Downs, Ellis Park, the Kentucky HBPA and JockeyTalk360.com.

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