Champion Tepin tops Derby undercard action

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Among those in the winner’s circle celebrating with owner Robert Masterson after his champion Tepin recorded her sixth consecutive victory during the Kentucky Derby undercard Saturday at Churchill Downs was Craig Bandoroff, a longtime friend and business partner of Masterson and the owner of Denali Stud in Paris, Ky. where Masterson keeps his horses.

“He was one of my very first clients,” Bandoroff said of Masterson. “He’s been in the business for 40 years and he understands what it means to own a horse like this.”

Tepin’s run continued in the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile with Julien Leparoux aboard for trainer Mark Casse. The 5-year-old Bernstein mare’s latest victory came at 3-10 odds at the immediate expense of Rainha Da Bateria by 3 1/2 lengths.

Bandoroff’s Denali Stud was actually going to consign Tepin in the 2015 Fasig-Tipton November mixed sale the day after she beat the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland, but the owner had a change of heart at the last minute and decided to keep her in training for one more year.

“A horse like this is a gift from God because nobody gives you this kind, somebody up there gives them to us,” Bandoroff said. “He’s a wonderful guy and no one deserves this more.”

Casse said the plans to send Tepin across the pond for the Royal Ascot meeting in England were intact after she won the Distaff Turf Mile in 1:34.36.

“I guess we better start figuring out how we do this,” Casse said. ” As long as she is happy and healthy, the next day or two we’ll map out a plan. So I guess Royal Ascot here we come.

“Honestly I didn’t even say anything to Julien (Leparoux). He’s a great rider and he knows her better than anybody. I think that in his mind, I got the feeling that he wasn’t going to let her (Isabella Sings) get as far away. I know that Mr. Masterson said to him, ‘You aren’t going to let her get too far away are you?’ but she is just amazing.”


Another Kitten, of course

Ken and Sarah Ramsey didn’t come close in the Kentucky Derby – their Oscar Nominated finished 17th of 20 – but they did upset the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes with 19-1 longshot Camelot Kitten.

Camelot Kitten outdueled second choice Beach Patrol to gain his first career stakes victory under Irad Ortiz Jr. for trainer Chad Brown.

Ken Ramsey admitted he was slightly nervous entering Camelot Kitten in the American Turf.

“He’s a full brother to Bobby’s Kitten, who’s a sprinter, so I didn’t know if this race would be too long for him or not,” Ramsey said. “He acted up in the paddock, too; he was a little frisky and had a little kidney sweat, but he turned out fine and ran huge.”

Of course, Ramsey did not miss an opportunity to plug his successful stallion, Kitten’s Joy.

“Irad Ortiz is going to be a Hall of Fame jockey,” Ramsey said. “He gave a brilliant ride. Those Kitten’s Joy’s have that little bit of extra stamina when they’re battling it out with another horse in the final stages of a race, they just keep coming.”

It sounded like a good day for the entire Ramsey clan after they saw the race’s payouts.

“I had a little wager,” Ramsey said. “I’ve got a pocket full of winning tickets for all my crew.”


Scary moment in Woodford Reserve

The last race before the Kentucky Derby was the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, where the result was slightly overshadowed by a spill in the final turn when Triple Threat and Kasaqui collided and threw riders Paco Lopez and Jose Lezcano off their respective mounts.

A sigh of relief went through the crowd of 167,227 when both horses were up and galloping loose after the spill and both jockeys escaped with no serious injuries.

The race was a battle at the finish with Divisidero edging out World Approval at the wire to win by a neck. The victory was the first Grade 1 win for the 4-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy trained by Buff Bradley and ridden by Hall of Famer Edgar Prado.

“We wanted to give him five weeks between his races and this worked out to where we didn’t have to ship anywhere,” Bradley said. “We knew the mile might be a little short for him the last couple races but we thought still we could win one if we had a good trip. We were fine with his second place finish last time out and felt very comfortable with him going forward and looking at the Woodford Reserve at a mile and an eighth.”

Divisidero was the only Derby Day mount for Prado, who won the main event 10 years ago on Barbaro.

“Edgar did just a beautiful job,” Bradley said. “Edgar is our man. Once we get a jock who gets along with a horse and fits a horse, we stick with him.”

Prado thought the trip was very easy for Divisidero and was pleased with the colt’s effort.

“He broke real sharp; better than he usually breaks,” Prado said. “He was also a little closer than usual and was doing everything so easily. I don’t take anything away that comes easy. Then I took him outside on the backside because that’s where he prefers to be every step of the race. I was very fortunate to ride him and I’m glad everything worked out.”