Everyone knows, or should, that you don't tug on Superman's cape; you don't spit into the wind; you don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger.
And, with apologies to the late, legendary folk singer and songwriter Jim Croce, you don't mess around with Tepin.
The reigning Eclipse Award Champion Turf Female, who is expected to garner her second straight championship when the 2016 Eclipse winners are announced on Jan. 21 at Gulfstream Park, seemed to indicate this morning that everything is on track for a 2017 debut on Feb. 11 at Tampa Bay Downs in the Grade III, $150,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes.
Under her regular jockey, Julien Leparoux, Tepin breezed a half-mile today in 49 4/5 seconds over the Palm Meadows turf course in Boynton Beach, Fla.
Owner Robert Masterson and trainer Mark Casse have stated they hope to bring Tepin back to the races in the Endeavour, a race she won in the easiest fashion imaginable last year. She came back to Tampa Bay Downs a month later to capture the Grade II, $200,000 Hillsborough Stakes, reeling in Isabella Sings after the latter built an 18-length lead with a wicked pace.
From Tampa Bay Downs, Tepin won three Grade/Group I stakes in three countries before closing out her year with a game second-place finish to Tourist in her bid to win back-to-back editions of the Breeders' Cup Mile against males.
The just-turned 6-year-old mare is bound to draw a boatload of fans to the Oldsmar oval, but it's anyone's guess as to who from these parts has the gumption to challenge her in the Endeavour.
From today forward, it's the job of the Tampa Bay Downs Racing Office to help find challengers. And it's entirely possible that Sunday's Endeavour Prep, a mile-and-a-sixteenth turf event for older fillies and mares, might have unveiled suitable competition for a horse virtually assured of one day joining the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame roster.
Light In Paris, a 5-year-old Irish-bred mare owned by Martin S. Schwartz and trained by Chad Brown, staged a relentless rally to win Sunday's race by a long neck from pace-setter Royal Jewely in excellent time of 1:42.02. Lots o' Lex was another neck back in third, followed by Laur Net.
Top Tampa Bay Downs jockey Daniel Centeno rode Light In Paris for his fourth victory on the card. She paid $5 to win as the wagering favorite.
Light In Paris had raced exclusively in France before being imported to the United States, where she was 0-for-3 before getting an 11-month break. Although it is premature to speculate on her potential, it is worth noting Schwartz and Brown won back-to-back Eclipse Awards in 2011 and 2012 with Champion Turf Females Stacelita and Zagora, both French-bred mares.
The latter-named won both the Endeavour and Hillsborough on the way to her Eclipse title, which she clinched with her Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf score at Santa Anita.
Decisions, decisions. The connections of the top three have almost five weeks to determine their next moves, but they might start working on their cape-tugging skills tomorrow.
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