Robert E. Masterson’s Eclipse Award champion Tepin, who defeated an international field of males in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (Grade I) at Keeneland and scored a dominant victory in last week’s Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes (GI) over the Lexington, Ky. track’s turf course, heads a group of five grass specialists who are late nominees to compete in the 29th running of the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) at Churchill Downs Racetrack on the Kentucky Derby Day program on Saturday, May 7.
The Jenny Wiley victory by Tepin, a 5-year-old daughter of Bernstein trained by Mark Casse, was her fifth consecutive victory. Should she compete in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, which will be run immediately prior to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and televised live on NBC, Tepin would attempt to become the first female winner of the prestigious 1 1/8-mile event on Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn Turf Course.
Her ongoing string of victories has lifted Tepin’s record to 10-3-1 in 18 career races that include three wins in 2016. She has earned $2,895,873.
The quintet of late nominees raised total nominations to the 2016 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic to 78, an increase of two from the nomination total for the 2015 running won by Donegal Racing and Rockingham Ranch’s Finnegans Wake, who is nominated to defend his title in this year’s event. Late nominations to this year’s running required a payment of $1,000 by 11:59 p.m. (Eastern) on April 13. Horses still have an opportunity to be made eligible for this year’s race by payment of a supplemental nomination fee of $15,000 at the time of entry to the Turf Classic on Wednesday, May 4.
The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic is limited to 14 starters with two also-eligible entrants. Preference will be given to winners of graded turf stakes and, after that, the highest earnings in stakes races on turf in 2015-16.
Other late nominees to the Woodford Reserve Turf Class include:
- Santana Racing LLC’s Dac, the 5-year-old winner of the Prairie Bayou Stakes on the synthetic racing surface at Turfway Park for trainer William Brumley;
- Wimborne Farm’s Kasaqui (ARG), a 6-year-old son of Lasting Approval trained by Ignacio Correas IV who won a recent allowance race on turf at Keeneland;
- Merriebelle Stable LLC’s Reporting Star, a 6-year-old son of Circular Quay who won the recent Appleton Stakes (GIII) on turf at Gulfstream Park for trainer Brendan Walsh;
- Live Oak Plantation’s World Approval, a Casse-trained homebred 4-year-old gelding by Northern Afleet who won Arlington Park’s American Derby (GIII) and Saratoga’s Saranac (GIII) in 2015, and was runner-up to Woodford Reserve Turf nominee Take the Stand (ARG) in the Mervin Muniz Memorial (GII) at Fair Grounds on March 26.
Notable winners of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic include Manila, the American turf champion of 1987 who won its running in 1987, and two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, a winner of six Eclipse Awards who became the race’s second two-time winner with back-to-back triumphs in 2013-2014. Other accomplished horses that have competed in the race include Paradise Creek, who won the race during a 1994 season in which he was named American turf champion, and 1992 Eclipse Award turf champion Sky Classic, runner-up to Cudas in that year’s Turf Classic renewal.
The versatile Einstein (BRZ) became the Turf Classic’s first two-time winner with wins in 2008-09 and was a finalist for the Eclipse Award for turf champion in 2008 and outstanding older male in 2008-09. Einstein also won Churchill Downs’ 2008 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) on dirt and the 2009 Santa Anita Handicap (GI) over a synthetic Cushion Track surface. English Channel, winner of the 2006 Turf Classic, finished third in that year’s running of the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs. He won that Breeders’ Cup race in 2007 at Monmouth Park and was named that year’s Eclipse Award Male Turf champion. Little Mike won the Woodford Reserve in 2012, a year during which the Dale Romans-trained gelding also won the Arlington Million (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI). Little Mike was one of three finalists for the Eclipse Award for U.S. turf champion won by Wise Dan.