The expectation in the weeks leading into the Grade I, $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile was that a female runner was going to dominate.
As recently as late March, champion turf female and Breeders’ Cup Mile heroine Tepin had the 8-furlong turf test penciled in as her next objective. But when her connections opted for another avenue, new hope emerged among the eight male contenders in the Maker’s 46 that at least one of them would emerge with their first career Grade I triumph.
In an effort to avoid the queen bee herself in Saturday’s Grade I Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes, the filly Miss Temple City was rerouted to take on the boys for her seasonal debut. Thanks to that evasion action, the daughter of Temple City ended up bringing the original theory to fruition.
Rarely do plans in Thoroughbred racing work out as ideally as the one the connections of Miss Temple City dreamt up. In her first start since last October, the 4-year-old filly got the perfect stalking trip behind the perfect pace scenario en route defeating Heart to Heart by 1 1/4 lengths to become the first female runner to capture the Maker’s 46 Mile in the race’s 28 editions.
This particular weekend of racing at Keeneland had been a target for trainer Graham Motion as he watched Miss Temple City grow and develop in the months since being denied a Grade I win when she fell a head short in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland last October 10.
Though Motion crossed entered the dark bay distaffer in both the Maker’s 46 Mile and Saturday’s Jenny Wiley, everything on paper was telling him and her owners that the boys were more likely to end up at her mercy.
“Tepin ran better numbers than the field in the Maker’s 46 Mile and she’s a little faster than the rest, she proved it in the Breeders’ Cup,” said Bob Feld, who bred Miss Temple City and co-owns the filly along with Sagamore Farm, Allen Rosenblum and The Club Racing. “And my whole thing was the shorter distance, the lighter weight (carrying 113 pounds), to me it was the perfect come back start for (Miss Temple City).
“If this were the only Grade I we were going to run in all year long…we would go after Tepin and take a shot. But we have the whole year ahead of us. She didn’t need to win in my mind, we just wanted to start her and move her forward. But deep down, I really though she was going to win.”
Only once in nine previous starts had Miss Temple City been worse than third, that coming when she finished fourth — beaten just 2 lengths — in the Group I Coronation Stakes during the Royal Ascot meeting in England last June.
What she needed to set her up for a breakthrough effort was enough pace to run into, something she got when pacesetter Heart to Heart was pressed by fellow front-runner Shining Copper through opening fractions of 23.30 and 46.03 over a course rated firm.
“We broke so sharp that by the first turn we were already in front so we were committed to being on the lead,” said Julien Leparoux, jockey for Heart to Heart. “We did go a little bit quick, but he fought the whole time and ran a huge race.”
As that battle was taking place up front, Miss Temple City was in the sweet spot in third waiting on jockey Drayden Van Dyke to give her the go signal.
That moment came on the final turn as Miss Temple City advanced on an outside path past a tiring Shining Copper and then had dead aim on the brave Heart to Heart as his stride shortened just enough to succumb to the filly in the final furlong.
Final time for the race was 1:34.09 with race favorite Tourist coming on to get third.
“It set up beautifully, it could not have set up better for her,” Motion said. “She’s just a big strong filly and she’s actually grown up a lot over the winter. I’ve been really impressed with her this winter.
“We all want to go back (to Royal Ascot) this year but we wanted to go back know that we belong. And I think today we feel pretty good about belonging.”
Miss Temple City improved her record to four wins from 10 starts with earnings of $562,799.