Off at odds of 29-1, Teresa Viola's Photo Call ended Tepin's eight-race win streak with a front-running performance in the G1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday, drawing away to lead by 10 lengths in the far turn and hanging on to win by 2 3/4 lengths. The 5-year-old daughter of Galileo covered one mile over the firm turf in 1:35.62 under Kent Desormeaux for trainer Todd Pletcher.
“I'm sorry, Todd,” laughed Desormeaux after the race. “He told me to cover her up, but that wasn't possible. That was not going to happen.”
Photo Call wasn't the sharpest out of the gate, but dragged Desormeaux to the the lead heading into the first turn, overcoming both Celestine and Tepin for that spot. She set fractions of :24.10 and :47.29 while extending her lead boldly, drawing it out to nearly 10 lengths mid-way through the far turn. Tepin tracked patiently off Celestine's hip in the early going, shuffled into fourth as Now or Never moved up the rail. Getting ready to make her move around the turn, it appeared that Tepin was left with an insurmountable task as Photo Call had bounded away convincingly.
To her credit, Tepin closed the gap on Photo Call significantly down the lane as that rival shortened stride, but was unable to overcome the margin as Photo Call crossed under the wire 2 3/4 lengths in front. Tepin had to settle for second for the first time since last year's First Lady Stakes. Celestine was third, and Nemoralia rounded out the superfecta.
“We hoped for the best, but this is why we picked this race in particular,” said Norman Casse, assistant to Tepin's trainer Mark Casse. “We didn't really want to run her 'A' race today. The goal has always been the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), a repeat there. 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.
Bred in Ireland by Mrs. Evie Stockwell, Photo Call was purchased for $3 million at last fall's Keeneland November Sale. She had just finished fifth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, but was a Grade 1 winner in the US. Photo Call won the G3 Orchid at Gulfstream Park this spring, but has been off the board in her two most recent starts. Overall, Photo Call boasts a career record of 6-3-4 from 21 starts, with earnings of over $800,000.
Watch the race replay here:
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