Graham Motion’s frustration kept building.
His years of horsemanship were telling him that Grade I winner Miss Temple City was the best filly he had ever conditioned, yet her recent off-the-board results didn’t back that up.
Motion wanted to put the 4-year-old filly in a spot where she could showcase her best form. For the second time this year, she proved that she is most at home showing the boys how it is done over the Keeneland turf course.
Seven months after becoming the first female runner to win the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland, Miss Temple City reigned over the opposite sex once more Saturday when she took command in the stretch and held off a fast-closing Ironicus by a head to prevail in the Grade I, $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile.
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The Shadwell Turf Mile was one of five graded stakes, including three Grade I contests, on the Keeneland card.
As was the case in the spring, Motion and his team opted to send Miss Temple City against males rather than face reigning champion turf female, Tepin — who ended up being upset in Saturday’s Grade I First Lady Stakes. Once more, that decision paid dividends as Miss Temple City snapped a three-race losing skid and boosted her career record to five wins from 14 starts with $1,213,038 in earnings.
“It was probably the most satisfying. I don’t think we’ve ever done anything like we’ve done with this filly,” said Motion, who also captured the Grade I Darley Alcibiades on Friday with the 2-year-old filly Dancing Rags. “My frustration was over the summer when it seemed we got a little lost with her. She had some tough trips.
“I have to give credit to the crew because they talked me into this. I think I would have strayed the other way trying to be conservative, but when Tepin went in (the First Lady) we chose this route. And it was the right thing to do. She’s the best filly I’ve ever trained.”
Though Miss Temple City had trained on well since running fourth in the Group II Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 15, she didn’t have the results to back it up, running fourth in the Grade I Diana and fifth in the Grade II Ballston Spa at Saratoga this summer.
With Hall of Famer Edgar Prado giving her astute handling in the saddle, the dark bay mare got a perfect trip in the Shadwell when she rated second behind pacesetter Pleuven through an opening half mile in :49.18 and then ranged up to the lead nearing the eighth pole. Race favorite Ironicus came with a monster rally on the far outside but lost the photo finish as Miss Temple City hit the wire in 1:37.04 to likely put herself in a position for a start in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
“This is surreal. It’s so emotional,” said Bob Feld, who bred Miss Temple City and co-owns the filly along with Sagamore Farm, Allen Rosenblum and The Club Racing. “Growing up as a little kid seeing racetracks like this … it’s a little emotional.”
Classic Empire redeems himself in Breeders’ Futurity
Classic Empire provided a little salve for his barn Saturday after an unexpected setback.
One race after his stablemate and reigning champion turf female Tepin had her eight-race win streak snapped in the First Lady, Classic Empire got his team back on track when he drew off handily under jockey Julien Leparoux to win the Grade I, $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity by three lengths.
Trainer Mark Casse was one of many who expected John Oxley’s Classic Empire to already be a top-level winner at this point as the son of Pioneerof the Nile went to post as the favorite in the Grade I Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 5. Instead, the winner of the Grade III Bashford Manor Stakes took himself out that day when he wheeled out of the gate and unseated rider Irad Oritz Jr.
Since that time, Classic Empire has trained in blinkers to help with his focus — something that was of no issue in the 1 1/16 -miles Breeders’ Futurity when he swept past Wild Shot and Blame Will at the head of stretch and kicked on like the 8-to-5 favorite he was, hitting the wire in 1:43.41 in an effort that will make him a leading contender for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
“This is a very, very talented horse. But this horse looks at everything, and he just doesn’t look … he looks and reacts, and so if he sees something, he stops,” said Norman Casse, top assistant to his father. “We put blinkers on him; we breezed him twice out of the gate to make sure the problem was fixed; and he’s just trained really, really well.”