The Breeders’ Cup World Championships are less than a month away, and the final “Win and You’re In” races are in the books. Every “Win and You’re In” race guaranteed the winner a spot in a particular Breeders’ Cup race at Santa Anita Park.
Bringing a final bid of $10,000 as a yearling in 2013, Miss Temple City returned home after not selling. These days, those who didn’t bid on her must be kicking themselves.
Miss Temple City won her first two starts as a 2-year-old before stepping up to the big leagues as a 3-year-old. Racing in the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant in late January, she finished third by a length to future Grade 1-placed Consumer Credit and Grade 3 winner Quality Rocks.
In her next start, Miss Temple City ran into Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Lady Eli and ran another credible race to finish second by 2 ½ lengths. The third time at the stakes level was the charm for Miss Temple City when she shipped to co-owner Sagamore Farm’s home state to run in the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. This time, Miss Temple City visited the winner’s circle when she beat All in Fun by 2 ¾ lengths to win her first stakes race.
After that, trainer Graham Motion along with owners The Club Racing, Allen Rosenblum and Sagamore Farm decided to take the Miss Temple City show international by heading to Royal Ascot for the Coronation Stakes.
Miss Temple City was close behind the leaders throughout the one-mile race and challenged for the lead in the final two furlongs. While Miss Temple City finished off the board for the first time in her career, she wasn’t disgraced with the fourth-place finish, only two lengths behind the winning Ervedya. Showing the class of the race, two of the fillies who finished in front of her turned into multiple Group 1 winners, including eventual Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Found, while the third-place horse was a Group 2 winner.
Miss Temple City returned in the Grade 2 Maker’s Mark Lake Placid at Saratoga Race Course that summer. Stalking from 2 ½ lengths behind the leader through the first three points of call in the 1 1/8-mile race, Miss Temple City took the lead in the stretch but Sentiero Italia passed her in the final sixteenth of a mile to relegate Miss Temple City to second place. A month later, Sentiero Italia and Blond Me kept her from winning another graded stakes when they finished first and second in the Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes with Miss Temple City third.
Perhaps the most painful loss for Miss Temple City’s connections was that year’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes in the fall at Keeneland Race Course. In the stretch, Miss Temple City only had Her Emmynency to catch and was flying fast. But in another tough beat, Miss Temple City finished a head behind the winner at the finish line.
Because her connections did not want to face Tepin for her first start as a 4-year-old, Miss Temple City was entered in the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland against males rather than the Jenny Wiley Stakes on the same weekend at that track in April.
Taking on eight males, including two Canadian champions, a future Grade 1 winner and three other graded stakes winners, Miss Temple City went off as the fifth betting choice. Racing third, five lengths behind the leading Heart to Heart and Shining Copper, Miss Temple City closed the distance as they entered the turn but still had Heart to Heart to catch. Unlike the Queen Elizabeth II, she had no problem catching the leader here.
Inside the final furlong, Miss Temple City passed Heart to Heart then pulled away to win by a length and a quarter to become the first filly to win the race.
2016 MAKER’S 46 MILE
From there Miss Temple City took another trip to Royal Ascot, this time for the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes. After avoiding Tepin at Keeneland, Miss Temple City became best friends with the mare as they prepared for their respective Royal Ascot races in England.
It was another fourth-place finish for Miss Temple City at Royal Ascot with the filly finishing 3 ½ lengths behind Usherette. Saratoga was just as unlucky for Miss Temple City as she finished fourth by only a head in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes. The margin was larger in the Ballston Spa in late August when she finished fifth by 2 ¾ lengths behind Strike Charmer with familiar rivals Lady Eli and Sentiero Italia also in front of her.
Returning to Keeneland for the fall meet, the connections of Miss Temple City again elected to run against males in the Shadwell Turf Mile instead of against Tepin in the First Lady.
“I think Tepin is the best turf horse in the country, and I wasn’t thrilled to run against her for [less than] half the money,” Motion said before the race. “So we thought we would take on the boys again.”
Two races before the Shadwell, Tepin was upset by Photo Call in the First Lady, but the Shadwell was all about Miss Temple City. In a race that had six Grade 1 winners, the Shadwell Turf Mile was a tougher test than the Maker’s 46 Mile and Miss Temple City was carrying 123 pounds here, 10 pounds more than she’d carried in the spring. None of that mattered.
Sticking close to pacesetting Pleuven, Miss Temple City wasn’t going to let anyone get more than a length in front of her. She poked her head in front as they entered the stretch and drew away from Pleuven in the stretch. It looked like the race was hers for the taking but a late-charging Ironicus proved to be a major danger as he closed powerfully. In what could be considered the Keeneland racing gods’ payback for Miss Temple City losing the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup the previous year at Keeneland, Miss Temple City won by a head … the same margin she’d lost by the previous year. With the victory, Miss Temple City became only the second horse to win both the Maker’s 46 and Shadwell Turf Miles in the same year, joining two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan.
2016 SHADWELL TURF MILE
“She’s the best filly I’ve ever trained,” Motion said after the race. “She’s spectacular. My frustration was over the summer when it seemed we got a little lost with her. She had some tough trips. I’m glad the crew talked me into running her here today. I think I would have chosen to [run her in the Grade 1 First Lady]. But this was the right thing to do; we took a shot. She’s a very special filly.”
While it was doubtful before the race that Miss Temple City would run in the Breeders’ Cup, the following morning Motion confirmed that she will head to the Mile as long as she’s healthy.
The Mile is a big ask for any horse this year, but it seems like Miss Temple City is coming into ideal form at the right time. Even with her loss in the First Lady, Tepin looks like the one to beat, but Miss Temple City may be up to the challenge. While I’ve thought that Miss Temple City was a nice filly for a long time, the Shadwell Turf Mile convinced me that she belongs in the Breeders’ Cup.
She’s had some ups and downs this year with her summer runs, but outside of Royal Ascot, which was on soft ground that she may not have liked, her other two losses came at longer than a mile. Obviously, here she will be going a mile, which seems to be her favorite distance. She beat a serious group of horses in the Shadwell Turf Mile, including Mondialiste, who I thought would be a threat to Tepin in the Mile, so she shouldn’t be discounted.
One worry is that Miss Temple City has never run in California, and the Santa Anita turf course isn’t as lush as those on the East Coast. But she has run on Gulfstream’s turf and that may be as close as you’ll get to California turf on this side of the Rockies.
The Mile is a very tough race this year. While it still looks like Tepin is the standout, she shouldn’t be the only one for the Miss Temple City camp to focus on. European contender Alice Springs has won three Group 1s in the past three months, including over horses that defeated Miss Temple City at Royal Ascot the last two seasons. Tepin’s half-brother Vyjack also may be aiming to the Mile after breaking Wise Dan’s Santa Anita course record at a mile in his City of Hope Stakes victory on Oct. 8 and Ironicus, who nearly caught Miss Temple City, is also aiming for the race.
Having said that, Motion as won three Breeders’ Cup turf races in his career, including at Santa Anita, so he knows how to prepare a horse. Miss Temple City also is in top form and looks like she has matured a lot just in the past six months, so she is a serious threat here. If you’re looking for a horse who may be at decent odds in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, I think Miss Temple City is your girl, especially if she is overlooked in a field that looks loaded with really good horses.
Miss Temple City is the best runner to date by Temple City, who has two crops who are three years old or older. Temple City won the Cougar II Handicap and set a record at Del Mar for 1 ½ miles while covering the distance in a time of 2:30.46.
Temple City has proved to be a useful sire in his first few crops with 85 of his 156 starters winning a race as of Oct. 15 and seven of them winning a stakes race, including Miss Temple City’s full sister Pricedtoperfection. Miss Temple City is his only Grade 1 winner to date but three others, including her sister, have won graded stakes for Temple City.
Miss Temple City is the fifth foal out of stakes-placed winner Glittering Tax, whose wins all came at sprint distances on both the dirt and turf. The mare raced 13 times in her career, never racing past seven furlongs with a second-place finish coming from her lone start at that distance. Six of Glittering Tax’s foals have raced — her lone horse of racing age not to run yet is her 2-year-old — with five of them winners. Visiting Temple City twice after being purchased at an auction for $6,000 in January 2011, it has proved the golden cross with her as both of her stakes winners are by the stallion.
Glittering Tax is out of the multiple stakes winner Nancy’s Glitter, whose best foal is Conway Two Step. In a short career of eight starts, Conway Two Step won the Brave Raj Stakes at one mile and 70 yards by 2 ½ lengths. The dam of six winners, Nancy’s Glitter also produced multiple stakes-placed winner Jane’s Kid.
Miss Temple City is definitely facing her toughest test in the Breeders’ Cup Mile but she seems to be in top order and should go off at good odds, making her an attractive runner in the race.