SARATOGA SPRINGS — Her name didn’t appear in the 2012 Saratoga sales catalogue, but only because she didn’t have a name yet.
It has appeared on T-shirts hand-printed by fans. And according to one woman’s Twitter account, the name wound up on her baby’s birth certificate.
On Friday, it finally appeared on a plaque at the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.
The popular Tepin joined Beholder as the only inductees in the contemporary category as the Hall of Fame celebrated the Class of 2022 at Fasig-Tipton’s Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion.
The two mares were known not only for their overall success, but with the twist of each having beaten males at least once.
In Tepin’s case, she defeated males in three different countries, which probably explains the fan support she enjoyed wherever she went.
Robert Masterson, who owned Tepin when she raced after having purchased her for $140,000 at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale, delivered the acceptance speech and recounted how fans got in a habit of chanting her name.
“She also had some other crazy things happen,” he said. “I’m here in Saratoga one time, and I’m standing in the paddock, they’re getting ready to saddle her and I look out, and I see this family, and these children had on what had to be these homemade T-shirts. Because across the front is ‘T-E-P-I-N.’
“She just had a way of capturing the people.”
The Mark Casse-trained Tepin, who was retired with a record of 13-5-1 from 23 starts for purse earnings of almost $4.5 million, did not capture any victories in two career starts at Saratoga, finishing second in the Diana and Ballston Spa in 2015.
In open stakes not restricted by gender, she won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, and the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in England and the Grade I Woodbine Mile in Toronto each in 2016.
Casse, a 2020 Hall of Fame inductee, said when Tepin was announced as a Hall of Famer earlier this year that he probably wouldn’t have been inducted yet if not for her victories in those races against males.
Of the 11 graded stakes she won, six were Grade I or Group 1. Tepin won Eclipse Awards for Turf Female in 2015 and 2016.
“The other things she did was she did it on all track conditions, whether it was fast, whether it was good, whether it was muddy,” Masterson said. “And even when she got to Royal Ascot, after four days of rain, we called it a quagmire. It was up to her knees.
“But the one thing about Tepin I really admired was the more she raced and the more success she had, the greater the following she seemed to get from the people. The fans really seemed to start to really love her.”
Masterson said the first time he noticed this was when Tepin overcame a 13-length deficit to win the Grade II Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs in 2016, less than five months after she had won the BC Mile, “like a crescendo at a concert.”.
“And when she won at Woodbine in Canada and beat the boys in a Grade I, we’re having the trophy presentation, and we stop it to recognize the fans shouting loudly, ‘Tepin! Tepin! Tepin!’” he said.
“Then again, when she finished second in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, when she was leaving to go back to the barn, the grandstand started going, ‘Tepin, Tepin, Tepin.’ And again, I think it’s because she finished the last quarter in that Breeders’ Cup the fastest quarter ever recorded on the grass at Santa Anita. And the fans really appreciated that even though she came up a half-length short.
“But probably the most amazing thing I ever heard of was a couple went on Twitter, and they announced that they had just named their newborn baby Tepin. Now horsemen always name horses after people, but somebody naming a person after a horse? That’s a first for me.”
A MACK TRUCK, PORSCHE, ROCKET SCIENTIST
Beholder’s record was even more spectacular than that of Tepin.
She was 18-6-0 from 26 starts for over $6 million in earnings, and won 13 graded stakes (11 were Grade I), including three at the Breeders’ Cup, the 2012 Juvenile Fillies, 2013 Distaff and 2016 Distaff as a 6-year-old mare. That race produced one of the most stirring duels in Breeders’ Cup history, as Beholder and her regular rider Gary Stevens beat Songbird by a nose.
Beholder, owned by Spendthrift Farm and trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, won a whopping four Eclipse Awards, in 2012 (Juvenile Filly), 2013 (3-Year-Old Filly) and 2015-16 (Older Dirt Female).
Stevens has said that riding Beholder was, “like driving a Mack truck with the speed of a Porsche and the brains of a rocket scientist.”
“I once heard Richard say, ‘I can’t get out of the horses what God didn’t put in,’” Spendthrift owner Eric Gustavson said during his acceptance speech. “Well, thank you, God, for giving Beholder so much talent. And thank you, Richard, for getting it all out of her.”
Gustavson was compelled to mention the late B. Wayne Hughes, who owned Spendthrift until he died last August.
“We’re sorry he didn’t get to see Beholder win her final honor,” Gustavson said. We take solace in remembering how much Beholder meant to Wayne.
“You see, Wayne never got too attached to the racehorses. And they meant a lot to him, but he wasn’t the type to allow his emotions to come along for the ride. Until Beholder, that is.”
She changed him in that regard.
“Following Beholder’s impressive win against the boys in the 2015 Pacific Classic, Wayne famously said, ‘I’ve had a few good horses in the past, but she’s the first horse that has made me feel lucky to be the owner. I’ve never had that feeling before. I think it’s called pride.’”
The class of 2022 also included trainer Oscar White and the horses Hillsdale and Royal Heroine through the Historic Review Committee, and James Cox Brady, Marshall Cassidy and James Ben Ali Haggin as Pillars of the Turf.