Miss Temple City Seeks to Defend Shadwell Mile Crown
By Alicia Wincze Hughes, courtesy Blood-Horse
There will likely only be a couple more of these moments with Miss Temple City for trainer Graham Motion's Herringswell Stables—the anticipation of getting the multiple grade 1 winner ready for another top-level try and the nervous energy that builds as she steps into a starting gate.
Come Nov. 6 inside the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion, the daughter of Temple City will enter the auction house with her accomplishments splashed across a catalog page for some deep-pocketed buyer to try to obtain.
Though Motion will almost certainly get sentimental when that reality crashes upon him, he hesitates to use the term "bittersweet" for any achievement the 5-year-old mare may earn during her final month in his care. That she was left in training after a championship-level 2016 campaign, which produced three grade 1 wins, was a gift her conditioner is beyond grateful for.
That he gets to lead her over Oct. 7 for one more run at the venue she made history at last season is a prize in itself.
"I feel very fortunate that the guys kept her in training this year. They didn't have to do that," Motion said of co-owner and breeder Bob Feld, whose The Club Racing owns Miss Temple City in partnership with Sagamore Farm and Needle In A Haystack. "I feel like this year was a bonus year. Let's put it that way.
"And I think, with what she's done, we have nothing to lose at this point with taking on the boys."
The boys had nothing for Miss Temple City at Keeneland last year, which sent her into the record books. She became the first female runner to capture both the Maker's 46 Mile Stakes (G1T) in the spring and the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (G1T) last October. Having recently gotten back in the win column after a first half of the year full of starts and stops, Miss Temple City will aim to duplicate her best self once more this Saturday against 13 male rivals in the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile.
Depth-laden as the turf female ranks are, Miss Temple City will add another magical stamp to her résumé should she put her trials of this season behind her and prevail over a field that includes grade 1 winners Mondialiste, American Patriot, and Divisidero.
After missing training time in the winter and being scratched out of a couple spots due to soft ground, Miss Temple City didn't make her seasonal debut until she was shipped to Royal Ascot, where she faded to 13th in the June 20 Queen Anne Stakes (G1). When her connections tried to get her back on form with a easier race for her next outing, the 1 1/8-mile distance of the July 30 WinStar Matchmaker Stakes (G3T) proved too much and Miss Temple City ended up third.
Things finally took a turn in her favor Sept. 9 going one mile, when she called upon her back class to run down Zipessa in the stretch of the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes (G3T) and prevail by a neck. It has taken far longer than originally planned, but Motion feels he has his charge on script once more.
"I think going to England without a race was very tough on her mentally and physically, and it took her a while to get over that," Motion said. "I thought Kentucky Downs was kind of what we needed to do. We needed to get her in a better environment—in a better spot going the distance we know she likes.
"We chose to go to (to the Matchmaker) partly with the idea of finding an easier spot and testing out the mile and an eighth again. But we know her well enough by now to know the mile is her distance. Perhaps we shouldn't have gone to England and perhaps we shouldn't have gone to Monmouth. But it seems like we've regrouped and kind of got her back on track."
Miss Temple City has not finished worse than second in four starts at Keeneland. While the big mare is aiming to put herself in position for another run in the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T) before being offered at the Fasig-Tipton November sale, one of her main rivals Saturday has a giant albatross he is diligently trying to shake from his neck.
Heart to Heart has been a warrior in his 30 starts. He's earned 13 wins—nine of them graded—with $1,354,870 in earnings. What has been just out of reach for the Brian Lynch trainee is a grade 1 victory, as he is winless in five tries at the top level, with a chunk of his heartbreak coming at Keeneland.
The 6-year-old son of English Channel finished second behind Miss Temple City in the 2016 Maker's 46 Mile and had to settle for bridesmaid honors in that spot again this year, when he was caught by a neck at the wire by American Patriot. His frontrunning style and ability to carve the turns like he's on rails earned him a 1 1/4-length win in the Sept. 4 Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2T) at Saratoga Race Course last time out.
And if he can get a bit a breather on the front end Saturday, Lynch has reason to hope he will finally get to celebrate his charge's best day.
"He worked super the other day and ... let's hope the stars line up," Lynch said of the popular bay. "Definitely, there is a lot more heat in the kitchen early in the mile, where the further he goes, the more he gets to dictate his own terms. But handicapping this race, I don't know that there is a lot of speed in there, so (he) might be the lone speed.
"I think if he's able to get this done, the configuration of the Del Mar turf (for the Breeders' Cup Mile) would really suit him—tight turns, short stretch."
American Patriot will attempt to join Wise Dan (2014) and Miss Temple City (2016) as the only horses to win the Maker's 46 Mile and Shadwell Turf Mile in the same year. The 4-year-old War Front colt is winless in two starts since his spring awakening, though. He finished 11th in the Queen Anne Stakes and sixth in the Aug. 12 Fourstardave Handicap (G1T) at Saratoga.
Divisidero, winner of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (G1T) both in 2016 and in May, is cutting back to eight furlongs after off-the-board runs in the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million XXXV Stakes (G1T) and Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (G1T). Mondialiste ran fourth in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes (G1T) Sept. 16 and will seek his first win since the 2016 Arlington Million.